Reflections: Lauren Rota

It’s hard to believe that, in just a week, I’ll have graduated from college. It's been four years of hard work, a few bouts of existential doubt, and late nights spent hunch over a laptop or textbook. I have been imagining what this would look like since freshman year, and while this was never how I imagined things would go, I’m still graduating!

It’s kind of crazy how much you grow and change in college. I’m both the same person who moved in freshman year and completely different. I never could have predicted the twists and turns my life would take that would build me into the person I am today. I’m still the shy, bookish freshman I was four years ago, but now, I’m comfortable in the knowledge that I’m constantly growing as a person and experiencing new social situations, while anxiety-inducing, are always learning opportunities. I’ve also gained so much more knowledge from my classes, both major and university studies. It’s kind of incredible the amount of information that I’ve been able to absorb within just four years, yet there’s still so much more to learn.

For the past four years, UNCW has been my home. Truly, when I would say "I’m going home," I would mean going back to campus. I remember at student orientation thinking Chancellor's was the longest walk of my life, and how would I do this every day? As a senior, the walk from the back of campus to the buildings my classes resided was the perfect way to zone out to music while wondering why I chose to have early morning classes. It’s going to be a big adjustment to not be able to call UNCW home anymore.

I miss a lot of things about being on campus. I miss hearing the sound of skateboard wheels barreling down towards me and wondering if today was the day I’d get hit by a skateboarder. I miss the morning routine I had established, which involved waking up at a reasonable hour. I miss being able to go to Randall Library and sit in a back corner somewhere for several hours and not even notice the passage of time. I miss being able to go to classes and see all of my classmates and professors in person, all the before-class-starts conversations that arose. I also miss being able to walk just a few feet and being able to talk to my best friends about what new ridiculous thing we found on the internet to make us laugh for several minutes.

UNCW was the best home I could have wanted these past four years. I’m sad to be leaving because what comes after college is scary. There are so many more unknowns and no familiarity to fall back on. These next couple of years will be tough, excluding the global circumstances of graduating during a pandemic, but Seahawks are tough. 

To all my fellow graduating Seahawks, while this isn’t how we wanted to graduate, I congratulate all of you on making it to this point. I can’t imagine the obstacles you’ve had or the hardships you’ve overcome to get to this point, but you’re here at the finish line!

Even if we all won’t be able to parade into Trask in our caps and gowns at the end of the week to celebrate our accomplishments, I hope each of you is able to do something special to celebrate this momentous occasion.

It’s time to spread our wings and take flight!