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“This is the biggest step we’ve taken, let’s enjoy it.” College Week 1

By David L. Hawkins, III / Published on Monday, 26 Aug 2019 08:36 AM / Comments Off on “This is the biggest step we’ve taken, let’s enjoy it.” College Week 1 / 205 views

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series David's College Experience
  • “This is the biggest step we’ve taken, let’s enjoy it.” College Week 1
The quote for this title came from a text conversation with my roommate leading up to move-in. We were talking about what times each of us were to arrive. 

The day before move-in was hectic. I had to first go to my church, Legacy at Beaver Hills, and pick up my refrigerator along with bedding and a microwave. These items had all been either donated by a member of my church (the fridge) or given to me by my youth pastor’s mother-in-law whom we call Memaw (the microwave and the bedding).

Skipping past all the mundane details, it was pretty difficult to fit everything into our little car once I got home and began packing everything else up. I basically had all of the back filled floor to wall and then the backseat next to me was filled with stuff. I rode with some drinks at my feet, a smart TV on my lap, and a box or Keurig cups stacked on the fridge threatening to slide over onto my head.

Luckily, we got to the school without a concussion.

It was hot and stuffy in Willard Hall so I definitely had to take a breather as I slowly moved everything up to the room. I was in no rush getting things organized since John wasn’t expected to show up for a few hours. I say in the room with mom, dad, and my girlfriend, Nelly. Later on John and his mom came but then left to get more of his stuff. A friend of ours, Cameron, stopped by after my parents had also left. Throughout my conversations with parents, my girlfriend, and Cameron, I slowly but surely organized everything the way I wanted it. The mostly final result was posted on Twitter and Facebook with the following paragraph:

“It is done. I have moved into the dorm which I will call home for my first semester of college. As a first generation graduate and college student, I cannot begin to comprehend how far I have come. I would like to thank all of the family, friends, teachers, and church leaders that have invested time, money, and love into me. This has been a journey 14 years in the making and it sure took a village. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in amazing programs like theatre, photography, and newspaper. I gained so much through the students I worked alongside and the teachers who led us and invested into us. I gained so much through feeding the less fortunate and loving on people through my church and youth group. I have immense gratitude and respect for those who taught me how to be a servant first. Thank to everyone who helped me move in, provided appliances and other items, or gave me graduation money. My senior year was a blast but I know even better things are to come as I begin this journey alongside one of my best friends and my now roommate, John Wilson. I look forward to this adventure and I shall keep y’all updated.”

Despite some noisy neighbors, the residence living aspect of college has been extremely enjoyable for me. I particularly love the independence of it. You go to the dining hall when you can, not when a school bell tells you to. You do your own laundry, which I have always done at home anyway. You don’t really have a parent telling you when to go to bed or when to get homework done and no one is going to ground you if you go astray. Some people would probably go crazy in this sort of environment, which is probably why party culture is popular on larger campuses, but I have never really felt a need to get involved in any of that. I know for a fact there is a party scene at this school, and I have seen guys on my floor come home from it, but I just am not interested.

Throughout my first week of college I spent half of it during Pioneer Power Up, a welcome week schedule of events for new students, and the other half of it actually going to classes. Throughout Pioneer Power Up, my “O-Group” was led by Pioneer Peer and junior, Andi, a business arts major who is actually Croatian. My O-Group also includes 2 international students, two soccer players from England and Ireland respectively.

Before actually attending this small college in Spartanburg, I probably wouldn’t have expected international representation of that sort at my particular school. The 5th chapter of Frank Bruni’s book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania is titled “Beyond the Comfort Zone” and talks about schools in which you can meet people and participate in programs that are completely new to you. This book has been something that’s really helped me come to terms with where I am going to school.

My dream school all throughout high school was Wofford College. I was ballsy and made it the only school I even applied to. The day their decisions started coming out, I watched as people I know for a fact didn’t work as hard as me began to get accepted. I was optimistic. That night I tried looking at my application portal on my phone. My phone crapped out and wouldn’t sync to my email. I tried my sister’s phone to similar results. After 45 minutes of struggling to get in, I finally got in on a church computer and scrolled down and my heart sank.

I can best describe my feeling for the next week as that of a zombie. Like I was living in my body, but I was on autopilot. I was there but I wasn’t. My rejection from Wofford wasn’t a full rejection. That year the small private school in Spartanburg, South Carolina had seen a  record number of applications. It was competitive. Their rejection was more of a “not right now” than it was a “no.” I was referred to Spartanburg Methodist for a 2 year bridge program. At first, I was pessimistic. I felt as if I had somehow failed myself. Part of me kind of assumed that my success was only possible at one school and attending this little 2 year would be a waste of time.

During the summer I came to terms with the decision but now that I have spent a week here, I believe I am content with being a student here. I have already done so many things.

I took the stage for the first time performing my original poems “peter” and “food stamps” for a student talent showcase for the second day of Pioneer Power Up. This experience was a pretty great one. I realized someone who had graduated my high school and participated in their theatre program a year or two ago, Kalista, was at SMC. She was running sound. It was very nice to see familiar faces. I participated alongside multiple people who I had shared the stage with for my senior talent show, while meeting several new people. Despite a small crowd at the showcase, I have been stopped multiple times since then and talked to about the pieces I performed that night.

For the last day of Power Up, I participated in one of the Pioneer Serves opportunities. The project was packing up bags of a week’s worth of pads and pantie liners for the Homeless Period Project, a group whose goal is to supply menstrual hygeine products to women who cannot afford them.

I really enjoy this kind of work because it is very rewarding knowing that I am doing something that will help people, even if those people I help never even know I exist.

The last big thing I got involved in was auditions for the play. I auditioned for Eurydice on Thursday and did not make the cast, the cast only has 7 actors, but I am excited to get to tech this show and I have a good feeling about the SMC theatre department.

The second half of my first week included my first 3 days of classes. My classes include (in the order I attended them this week) Intro to Sociology, Journalism, Drama Appreciation, The Life of Jesus, Creative Writing, Drama Workshop, and Freshman Year Experience.

All of my professors seem to be very interesting and caring people so I hope their classes will be easy for me. I have taken all of my syllabuses and added their due dates to a Google Calendar, which will hopefully help me stay on top of things. My coursework for this first semester is not the most challenging but I don’t want to run any sort of risk of falling behind in any capacity.

That was my first week and it has been a whole new frontier for a first generation student. Dorm life has been amazing and I have felt a brand new sense of independence. I look forward to writing and releasing this series throughout the semester in which I will share my college experiences about every other week.

I hope you enjoyed.