February 12th, 2015 I was rejected from Christopher Newport University. I was sitting in the library of my high school when discovered the news. I was planning on visiting the school that weekend to participate in Diversity Day. To save me the commute, Dean Robert Langue personally e-mails me and informed me that I was not accepted into the Fall Class of 2019.
Heart-broken devastated and lost I reached out to love ones who encouraged me to fight for my #1 choice. I called Dean Langue, and I begged to get a second chance. I wanted him to hear the desperation in my voice because I knew I was destined to be a Captain. When we ended our phone conversation, we agreed that if I obtained all A’s and B’s that following semester, he would accept me into CNU. I completed the school year with a 4.0-semester average.
I open with this story because little did I know that this would be the prologue to my story of CNU.
This fall, I walk onto CNU’s campus as the owner of a successful blog, a proud sister of Alpha Sigma Alpha, a published writer and the President of my A Cappella group, Extreme Measures. The many trials and tribulations I have endured while attending CNU have molded me into the proud, confident, robust and determined young woman that stands before you. I did not achieve these accomplishments overnight but through my ability to endure what I like the call the five chapters of my time being a Captain.
1. Friendship
2. Personalize your academics
3. Diversity
4. Leadership
5. Readiness to embrace the future.
During my first year, I solely focused on developing friends. The moments my parents left I was determined to find my future bridesmaids. I became close with my learning community, then I joined my A Cappella group, and finally, I ran home to my sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha.
I can tell you will meet your lifelong friends here. However, because life introduces us to challenges, you will also meet people who aren’t. Individuals who present themselves as friends but who aren’t. Those who will try and defy you. Those who seek to take away light away from you that shines above CNU. It happened to me, and it destroyed me.
My friends became my Island. They kept me afloat. They dictated my emotions, and they were fruits on the trees. In college, we can get so lost in making others happy with our presence that we forget how to float ourselves. Learn from my mistakes, friends are important but do not let anyone else be your island. You keep yourself afloat. Friends are the trees that grow, but if a tree falls, another will rise.
When I realized that my friends could not surround my existence at CNU, I decided to turn my attention to academics, which introduces us to chapter 2: personalizing our academics.
I came to CNU as a psychology major, and I’m ending my journey as an English major.
I made the same mistakes a lot of first-year students made and will make. I decided upon Psychology not because it’s what I wanted to do, but because I thought it was the smart thing to do. As of 2016, almost 10% of college students graduated with a psychology degree. It was safe, it was comfortable, but it didn’t make me happy.
The summer before my sophomore year, I came home dreading returning to my psychology classes. My mom sat me down and told me this advice that I’m going to share with you. Turn your hobby into your career. I will repeat it because it is so essential; turn your hobby into your job.
I could spend days getting lost in a book or writing until my hand cramps or my pen runs out of ink. I wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller; so I changed my major to English, and it was one of the best decisions I made at CNU. Now that I’m an English major, not only do have my blog, am a published writer, currently working on self-publishing a novel but I’m also applying for my MFA in fiction writing. When you’re working for something, you love, it does not seem like work. With each new course, I’m improving my craft, enhancing my gift.
If your love is the stage, major in Theatre. If your urn to heal others, working for that biology degree to help you into MED school. If you’re interested in the mind and how it works, then Psychology is for you. Major in what you love. Make that hobby your career. Once you switch to work with passion, failure is not in your future.
By the end of my sophomore year, I had already experienced more growth than I could imagine. I had discovered the perfect balance between my social life and my academics, and I loved my studies, but I wanted more. That is why I decided to study abroad during the first semester of my junior year which brings us to my third chapter: the importance of diversity.
For four months, I became a temporary resident of Glasgow Scotland, where I studied English literature at the University of Glasgow. While abroad, I traveled all across the United Kingdom, and let me tell you: you do not understand the exact definition of diversity until you’re standing in a metro station surrounded by individuals who speak every language but English.
Being an African American woman, I have experienced being a minority here in the United States, but in Europe, it was unknown territory. Never had I been to a place where I could not communicate. It was frightening at first, but when you change fear with curiosity, it became overpowering.
I took my new lesson of diversity back with me to the United States, and I never saw CNU the same. Learn to value those who differ from you. We become active as a community when we recognize and highlight our diversity.
At the end of my junior year, my fine tuning was almost complete. However, there was one entity that I was missing.
Christopher Newport crafts leaders. We are not called Captains out of coincidence. We are the leaders of our ships, the Captains of our crew.
When you walk across that stage for graduation, you walk as a leader.
You walk as a Captain.
However, to lead it is vital to know when to follow. One is not born a Captain but crafted into a leader. Mentioned earlier, last semester I was elected the President of my A Cappella group and though I knew I wanted this position since my freshmen year, I decided I was going to run my senior year. To prepare myself for such a role, I watched the leaders before and learned. I took every opportunity to examine the Presidents before me in Extreme Measures, but also in other leadership roles, such as the President of my sorority, and presidents of other organizations.
From watching we learn. From listening, we learn. From being present, we learn. We are made into leaders not because we walked onto Campus as leaders, but because from watching and taking the lessons from older students, we become leaders.
Now as I stumble onto my final chapter, the pen is still on the paper. The episode is still being written as graduation comes closer with each day. Though I still have an entire school year ahead of me, I am ready to take on the future forward.
The lesson I have collected from the University has given me so many resources that no matter what hurdles comes in my way I will be able to tackle it. I tell you this because in a few short years you also will be concluding your own story.
Your chapters might vary from mine, but when you collect your diploma from President Paul Trible and hug Mrs. Rosemary, you’ll be ready too. By the time your four years finalize, Christopher Newport will have equipped you with all the pens and pages you need to write your novel. Your time at CNU will be your first novel, but with the knowledge and lesson you take from our university, know that it is the first book of a series.

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