Early this Saturday morning I will give my student leaders the same speech I give them every year. Saturday is Move In Day at Anderson. This is when all our new students arrive on campus, fully become a part of the university community and start making this place their home. It is a long day at the end of a really busy week and the beginning of an even longer one for me and my staff. The day itself is pretty chaotic for everyone involved. Students and their parents show up a little unsure of what steps to take. Students are nervous about what this day means for them and if they will fit in at college. Their families are sad that their student is growing up. Together they are an emotional wreck that shows itself in hundreds of different ways. For staff, the day is the result of a semester’s worth of planning and prep work. We hope it goes smoothly but there are always bumps.
Despite the stress, This is my absolutely favorite day all year long.
I have yet to have a move in day where I don’t find myself fighting back tears (of joy, not exhaustion). In the midst of all this chaos our new students are meeting their roommates and hall-mates. They are unknowingly meeting the faces that will change their lives. They are meeting their life long best friends, bridesmaids and coworkers. They are meeting the source of conflict that will force them to stand up for themselves and the people who will help them to see areas of selfishness and pride in their own hearts.
Their lives will never be the same after this day.
I am so blessed to be able to be a part of this! My graduate degree and work all year are about this day. My colleagues, our student leaders and I get to make this day happen. In the midst of chaos, tiredness and emotions, I encourage them to sit back and watch it for a bit.
It’s such a beautiful day.
10 years ago this week I moved into Wright Hall at Belmont University. The road to Belmont was a rocky one, and until May I didn’t know that I was going to Belmont. My own move in day was a huge blur and I remember very little of it. What has become so much more obvious to me over the last decade is how much that day, place and season altered my life.
I entered Belmont with a declared Music Business major and plans to do artist management. I knew one other person- another participant in a “scholarship pageant” in high school. When submitting my residence hall preferences my dead last choice was Wright- it had community baths and window AC units. But, when you deposit in May, you usually get your dead last choice.
I graduated knowing that our dead last choices are often God’s best for us
I graduated four years later with a BA in Religion, a BS in Psychology and admission to my first choice graduate program, Texas A&M University, to pursue a masters in Higher Education/Student Affairs. My first year in Wright had led me to be an RA and I spent my Sophomore and Junior years there as well. This experience altered how I understood who God made me to be and showed me clearly what career I was called to be in. I had no doubt after sophomore year that my working life would be spent on a college campus.
What made Wright so transformational for me was not just the leadership role I got to serve in but the people who were a part of my journey. My freshman year I met women who are still dear friends to this day. Woman I have laughed with, cried with, prayed with. Women who when we are together, no matter how much time as passed, it feels natural. Being in that community was encouraging, challenging and fun.
I am a different person now and do my job well because of Belmont.
If I close my eyes and think back I can still remember the uncertainty I felt that first day. The feeling of wondering if I made a mistake in going to Belmont. I can also remember playing practical jokes on friends in our community bathroom, sitting in the hallway having deep conversations about life and faith or of course boys. I remember trips downtown to go line dancing on Saturday nights and the day it snowed two feet within a matter of hours. I remember so much fun and laughter. I also remember just how hard it was to leave.
So every year, as I watch a new group of students move in for the first time, I can’t help but get teary eyed. I say a prayer that their college experience and the men or women in their residence hall will be as transforming as mine was. Then I work just a little bit harder to do my part ensuring it will be.