I remember as a freshman, feeling like I was starting with so much momentum. My orientation leader welcomed us and the events gave us the opportunity to bond with our hall-mates. Though slightly overwhelming, our orientation leaders, resident advisers and student leaders sent a clear message that the opportunities were here and that it was our job to figure out which ones we would pursue. Each year thereafter, taking part in the orientation experience became one of my cherished activities. As an orientation leader, I felt like I had the responsibility to help the students learn about Emory and feel welcome.
As a student leader, being part of orientation reminded me why I felt a need to give back to the community. Leading the first-year students, I simply spoke from personal experience to demonstrate some examples of routes to take in college. Because of the tremendous opportunities at Emory, “my story” became a more complex one to tell each year. My relationships with upperclassmen allowed me to refer to their personal experiences as well. With each story and experience shared, my pride in Emory grew.
Despite the sacrifices and the risks, families take the chance and hope their students will mature by sending them off to college. After four years at Emory, I am sure I could not have received a better education. Studying political science and Chinese, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Beijing. Volunteering throughout my first year, I utilized my knowledge to start a student organization known as Synergy.
Investing so much in Emory took me as far as serving as President of the Student Government Association. Throughout all of these experiences, I learned an incredible amount both inside and outside of the classroom. Perhaps my draw toward orientation at Emory rested on the fact that I saw the potential for each student to have his or her own set of experiences and ultimately an incredible education.
Standing at the opposite end of the spectrum, commencement is equally as exciting and overwhelming as orientation. This weekend, however, graduating students may feel more like orientation leaders, attempting to welcome their families and sing their praises of Emory. Entering Emory with momentum from orientation, I now exit with the force of four years and an invaluable education at my side.
Alex Kappus is a College senior from Cleveland, Ohio. He was president of the Student Government Association.