A lot of you incoming first year students have graduated in the last couple of weeks, and more of you will graduate in the next few weeks. Some of you even had your high school graduation ceremonies at McDaniel if you live nearby.
I want to extend the utmost congratulations to all of you high school graduates and soon-to-be McDaniel first years! You all have worked hard, accomplished great things, and have shown McDaniel that you are worthy to be a part of our community. You should be proud of what you’ve done in the past four years and excited for your next four!
My own brother graduated on Sunday, so naturally, I heard a lot of speeches from various students and administrators of my high school alma mater. The speech that resonated the most with me, however, was the one given by the school board president, who encouraged the graduates not to build walls but to build bridges in their future endeavors.
And you know what? I’d like to encourage you to do the same at McDaniel. Do not build walls around yourself and isolate yourself from your peers and our community. Coming to college is new and can be intimidating, so the best way to make friends is to be a friend right from the start. Most people on campus will always be friendly toward you, but to find friendship, you need to play an active role in fostering it.
Build bridges not just to form interpersonal relationships with your peers but also to get to know your professors and other adults on campus. On a small campus like McDaniel, this isn’t difficult, but it requires action on your part. Go to office hours just to strike up a conversation and get to know your professor. Say hello to the administrators and staff you encounter on campus. Being friendly helps you form important relationships and will help you access important resources, such as letters of recommendation or supplies for your next campus event.
Build bridges by joining clubs and other student organizations. Being involved will enrich your experience on the Hill and help you gain experience in teamwork, organization, and leadership–all skills that you’ll want and need for life after college (though you probably don’t want to think that far at this point).
Build bridges to the Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO), so they can help you build more bridges to community service opportunities, to internships, to jobs, to careers. This bridge to the CEO is one that many people neglect to build though it’s a simple one.
Throughout your time at McDaniel, build these bridges and more. Take an active roll in making your time at college rewarding and wonderful–from the minute you step foot on campus for orientation in August.