College is wonderful for many reasons. During your time in college, you will grow exponentially as a person as you are constantly learning more about yourself – how you interact with other people, how to share a room with someone, how to budget your time between work and fun, how to be proactive in getting involved, how to interview and get hired, how you deal with transitions and how to handle them better. One thing that can be both a blessing and a frustration is that each semester looks different than the last. Every semester brings a new set of classes, a new routine, and a new set of faces that you are seeing every day. Friends you had three classes with in the fall are now rarely seen unless you both make the time to have coffee dates once a week. I love this part of college! There is always something changing and I am always having to grow and learn something new, which I enjoy. But I also hate this part of college. This semester I loved my schedule and the people I was seeing every day, and the fact that this time is coming to a close in a week and a half is sad (even though, yes, I am sooo ready for summer), since I know the fall will look completely different. One thing about this recurring transition from one semester to the next, is the constant goodbyes. Every semester, people who have become some of your best friends graduate. Graduate – a word no senior really likes to talk about. That word hold so much meaning – the beginning of life in the adult world, possibly moving, saying goodbye to friends and professors, leaving the comfort of Belmont and the college life.
Having spent this past year working closely with Jonny Woo, I have heard a lot about what this impending transition looks and feels like. I first knew who Jonny was the summer before I started at Belmont. He was on Orientation Council and, apparently, Belmont famous. When I arrived to campus in the fall to begin school, Jonny was still the face of Belmont to me, as he stood on stage and introduced the freshman class to Belmont. When I found out this past fall that Jonny would be my coworker in the Office of Admissions, I was fangirl-excited. THE Jonny Woo would work with me almost every day. I hoped we would become friends. Little did I know how much Jonny would mean to me and how important this friendship would become in my life. (Sorry not sorry for the sappiness to follow.)
Jonny is an incredible person. There is a reason everyone on campus has heard of him. He has the brightest personality that makes everyone feel welcomed and loved. Jonny goes out of his way to care for his friends – staying up late with them to talk through hurts, remembering to ask them about exams or interviews they had been stressed about, bringing them Starbucks on early morning Preview Days, arranging surprise parties for work anniversaries, just to name a few of the ways he has shown love. Jonny truly wants the best for people and his words of advice and encouragement to me have been monumental in stressful times.
In our little ice box of an office in the Office of Admissions, Jonny and I have had shared so many life experiences. We’ve encouraged and prayed each other through stressful days, difficult decisions, keeping with New Year’s resolutions, frustrating friend situations, rejections, heartbreaks, and deaths of friends and family. But we have also cheered and celebrated for each other through successful exams and projects, successful interviews, new leadership roles, improved friend and roommate situations, accepting job offers (Jonny has a big-boy job!), and just wonderful happy days. Jonny has been a constant in my life this past year and we have become such sweet friends that looking on this next year without him… I just cannot picture it.
Though saying goodbye to Jonny will be difficult (even though he will still be in Nashville and I expect him to come visit the Office of Admissions often ;)), I am beyond excited for him in this new chapter in life that he is beginning. Jonny did so much with his time at Belmont and, though he will tell you there are things he wish he had spent more or less time doing, his Belmont career is overflowing with great memories that he will have forever. When I graduate in two years, I hope I can look back on my time at Belmont and feel a similar sense that I too got the most out of my Belmont years.
Most of you, incoming freshman, will not have the pleasure of knowing Jonny, unless he was your fearless tour guide when you came to Nashville and toured campus. But his legacy as a Bruin Recruiter, Welcome Desk Worker, Tour Guide, Orientation Council Leader, Belmont Ambassador, Homecoming King, and most importantly, Student Assistant with me will live on in the lives he touched. You can look forward to college because of so many things, but one of the most valuable takeaways from your time in college will be the lifelong friendships that you will make. This has been proven true over and over for me. My best friends are people I have met at Belmont and only known for two years or less. Something about this time in life makes these friendships so sweet and genuine, and you should be so excited to meet the people you will meet in college. Even though graduation will come eventually (hopefully in no more than four years), you will learn to cherish the semesters you have with such great people and those friendships can last forever, no matter where post-graduation sends you.
So get pumped about college, because it will be amazing. And the people you meet, even more incredible.