Monday, August 24, 2020
Dear <<First Name>>,
Welcome to Wake Forest! We’re so excited that you’re here, and we can’t wait to watch you grow and flourish with us! As you head into your first week of classes, we hope you approach your courses with an open mind and an eagerness to explore broadly in the liberal arts. We understand this time of transition is full of opportunities, and we want to make sure you’re hearing from students who’ve been where you are and can reassure you about these first few weeks.
Each Monday of the academic year, you’ll receive a “Letter So Dear” from one of our upperclassmen or alumni submission writers who want to share their “Wake Forest” experience with you. These letters are meant to help you on your journey here, so sit back, and we hope you enjoy our first submission.
Today, our “Letters So Dear” series begins with a message from ‘20 alumni, Katherine Laws:
One of my favorite things in the world is a good story. Stories teach, build, unite, share, and move. And you, friend, have just begun a story of your own! What a blessing you have been given to be able to be here at Wake Forest. Has that quite sunk in yet for you? You get to write a story of your own at Wake, and, even more importantly, you get to take part in writing Wake Forest’s story.
As you write your own Wake Forest story, you might encounter a few challenges. Here are some tips and truths that I wish I would have learned sooner. I promise you that they will make your story just a little bit sweeter.
Pursue nourishing community. No matter what our modern world tries to tell you, you need others. I’d argue that you don’t improve when you are all alone. It is essential to have friends around you who love you and push you. This might not come all on its own. Perhaps my biggest piece of advice is to pursue community. Be vulnerable and spend time with others. Be intentional about choosing friends, even if it is a friendship that’s not convenient. It’s not too late! I made new, dear friends every semester of college.
Pursue unique experiences. You will find unique experiences everywhere at Wake Forest, whether it is a cool research trip, a quirky club, a life-changing conversation with an unexpected person, a friendship with a professor, or some other mystical experience that you can’t quite explain. Mother So Dear has so much to explore. There’s more mystery to her than you might think. Start looking for it.
Become rooted in this place and its people. It’s easy to think that your friendships and experiences here are just temporary, and that it’s not worth getting involved or invested. That it’s not worth the emotional energy, the time, the stress. This could not be further from the truth. Your actions, words, and presence at Wake Forest and in Winston-Salem have real and lasting effects. And this place will most certainly have an effect on you. Befriend more than just your peers. Grow close to professors, administration, custodial staff, food service staff, and local families in town. There are so many opportunities to cultivate these relationships, whether it is getting involved in a service club, finding locals with the same faith or beliefs, using other people in town as the focus of your project or assignment for a class, or becoming a regular at a coffee shop or restaurant downtown. If you invest in them, these relationships will be some of the most rewarding of your time in college.
Love Wake Forest despite her imperfections. This is my favorite one. My college experience was transformed when I understood this: that you can, and, in fact, should, love a place even if you discover that it isn’t perfect. One of my favorite quotations in the world I learned in my sophomore year Philosophy class. G.K. Chesterton says this: “Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.” Wake Forest is so wonderful. But, as you get deeper in your involvement at Wake, I suspect that you’ll find out, if you haven’t already, that it is a broken place made up of broken people. And that is okay. It’s possible to know a place well, imperfections and all, and love it anyway. As Chesterton reminds us, any good place only got that way because it was loved, deeply and dearly.
And that’s why your story is important. Wake Forest needs you. It is not always easy to give freely your time, energy, and love to your organizations, your classes, and, most importantly, the people surrounding you—your peers, teachers, administrators, and staff. I’ll be the first to tell you that this work is only possible when balanced with rest and sleep. But know that your labors are not in vain! The continual nurturing and loving of Wake Forest are the only way to make her even better—better at serving, better at including, better at conversing, and better at fighting for humanity. And to think—you get to be a part of writing that story, one word at a time.
Constant and True,
Class of 2020