There are fewer than 20 days until Commencement. Fifteen, to be exact, but who’s counting? I’m writing this letter to you, fresh-faced beardless freshman Tyler, because I know how anxious you are about college. I’m here to tell you it’s going to be the best four years of your life.
Dear Tyler, 2011 —
Your first year of college is swiftly approaching, and I know how you’re feeling (because I felt those very same feelings). You’re anxious, scared, feeling like the world is closing in on you. You went from the top of the food chain at your high school and now have to start all over again. You’ll be sitting in your room in New Jersey the night before moving into McMahon Hall and wondering why you didn’t take a year off from school to develop some other skill or go to college closer to home.
[pull_quote_center]I’m here to tell you that you’ll be okay. [/pull_quote_center]
I’m here to tell you that you’ll be okay. You’ll get sidelined by Hurricane Irene and move in a day late, which doesn’t make you any less anxious. When you’re all moved into McMahon, apartment 4M, you’ll look outside the window onto the the street and watch other freshmen be moved in by overly excited Orientation Leaders, decked out in maroon from head to toe. (Surprise: you’ll be one of those crazy maroon cheerleaders yourself. Don’t believe me? Just wait.)
Will it be easy? No. Will it be challenging? For sure. Can you do it? You have no other choice. Before you know it, four years will have flashed before your eyes and you’ll be sitting in the Ram Café, during the last week of classes in your senior year, writing a letter to your freshman self.
“New York is my campus. Fordham is my school.” You’ll hear that phrase repeatedly for the next four years and read it every time you go up and down the escalators from the Indoor Plaza to the Lowenstein lobby. That phrase, that motto, will be exactly how your college career is divided.
[pull_quote_center]New York is your campus, but you will soon realize how Fordham truly is your school.[/pull_quote_center]
For the first two years, you’ll explore New York City. It is one of the reasons why you wanted to come to Fordham. You’ll go to Broadway shows, museums, skip class to go to Central Park and explore, find places off the beaten path. You’ll never be home in McMahon – why sit in an apartment with terrible fluorescent lighting when you could be walking along the Hudson or exploring the Village?
New York is your campus, but you will soon realize how Fordham truly is your school. During your last two years, you’ll fall in love. Not with a person, or with a career or profession, but with Fordham. That love will shake you to your core.
You’ll fall in love with the community at Fordham, especially at Lincoln Center. This community fights hard for the things they believe in, and they work hard to achieve their goals. Whether that be raising awareness for a social justice issue like police brutality or raising money to cure cancer, you’ll be inspired by the passion of your peers. And where else do professors know your name because you’re not just another number in a classroom?
You’ll fall in love with clubs and extracurriculars.Though you’ll spend two years swearing off “getting involved,” you’ll soon eat your words when you join The Observer, do a Global Outreach (GO!) project, participate on committees and the like. You’ll develop a kinship with other student leaders and be changed by your experience. You’ll develop friendships with people that will change you with their goodness and fire. You’ll lose a few friendships, too, but those people still made an impact on you.
You’ll fall in love with Fordham’s Jesuit values. What you once used as a selling point to your religious parents will suddenly become part of your mantra, your ideology, your system of beliefs. Is there nothing more beautiful than reaching self-fulfillment by being men and women for others, by taking on the ethical issues of the world and striving to make a change? It is through these Jesuit and Ignatian values that you will be and continue to be transformed into the best version of yourself. As President of Fordham Fr. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. said, “Cared for, our students are challenged. Challenged, they awaken to their potential. Awakened, they are transformed. Transformed, they are empowered.”
You’ll fall in love with Fordham, and it will come to mean everything to you. There will be so many challenges you will have to face, in leadership roles, in the classroom and with your own peers. You’ll be hurt by friends and other people, and you’ll also hurt other people, not always unintentional. You’ll face crises of faith about what you want to do when you graduate, but it will be okay. You’ll cry both in frustration and happiness, sometimes at the same time.
[pull_quote_center]Most importantly, let yourself fall in love.[/pull_quote_center]
My only advice to you is to follow your heart. It brought you here in the first place. Join clubs. Do a GO! Project. Take challenging classes and classes that interest you. Hang out with friends on the Plaza during the Activity Block. Take advantage of professors and administrators as resources. Explore New York City. Take a class at Rose Hill. Venture to the Westchester campus.
Most importantly, let yourself fall in love.