(Editor’s note: Ryan Wuester is a 2013 Simple Gifts Fund Scholar and a graduate from Lakewood High School. She is freshman at Bridgewater College in Virginia.)
Nearly everyone has told me of the wonderful college years and how it is so much better than high school. At the time, I didn’t believe then, but I was in fact, sorely mistaken.
In the three months I have been at Bridgewater College, the home of the Eagles hidden in the Shenandoah Valley, my love of learning has not only grown, but has blossomed. The college is a wonderful mix of friends and family, so much so that the very thought of leaving this place makes my heart ache.
Initially, on move-in day, I was very frightened. My parents were dropping me off in a place so far away from home. Of course tears were shed, but something told all four of us that I was going to be okay here. After my three months spent here, I have come to the realization that this is the place for me.
This college fosters learning. Every student is required to attend at least seven ‘convocations’ per semester, and as a normal teenager, I loathed the thought. Contrary to my original belief, the convocations were absolutely brilliant. Most recently, I hung on every word Dr. Jack Gordon had to say on his theory of how J.F. Kennedy was assassinated. This past week, there was a French Film Festival which I attended, and cried like a baby during the film Monsieur Lahzar.
Even in the dormitories learning flourishes. Our ‘parties’ on campus consist of “get-togethers” for snacks and to work on our chemistry homework. And, since Bridgewater is a small campus with only about 1,400 students, not only do you see familiar faces every day, but you are also close with the faculty and staff of the campus. Dr. Lickey, who is the freshman biology instructor, and Dr. Mitchell, who is the chemistry professor, are my two favorite professors here on campus because of their enthusiasm for their work. Dr. Lickey insists that upon completion of his course, we will all want to be botanists!
The Simple Gifts Fund has opened my eyes to a whole new world of learning. School isn’t just about learning (although it is a good majority of it!), but it is also about the exposure to other cultures. My third week at school I met a boy name Waseem, and he was here from the Middle East. I loved hearing all about their customs, and he had kindly offered me some Arabic coffee, which is very good, by the way!
This scholarship hasn’t just offered me a way through college – it has opened my eyes to the world, and allowed me to see that there is so much more than the borders of North Carolina. The world is a big place, and it may seem scary to some, but it is something I have craved for a while, along with the intellectual stimulation.
So I leave you this note to all rising seniors or below: Do not pass this opportunity up. It has been an incredible journey so far, and yet it has only just began. And maybe, just maybe, I will see you walking around campus here, at Bridgewater College!