Welcome. You chose to become a Virginia Tech Hokie and by extension you’re already being cheered on by thousands of other Hokies both in and around Blacksburg, as well as the countless alumni in other places. This might have always been part of “the plan,” or maybe this was a decision completely out of the blue. Some of you may have family that are alum and are well acquainted with the area, and some of you may still be unable to locate Blacksburg on a map. Either way you all have invested into an experience that cannot never be completely prepared for, and though a combination of decisions and struggling through dilemmas it is all our hope that you will change significantly as a person throughout your time here.
Being a part of the Honors College and the Honors Residential Commons (HRC) opens its own set of doors in addition to the environment of college itself. There are plenty of academic opportunities forwarded on by Honors, some minor perks in priority & registration of classes, and above all else the opportunity to meet and connect with others in the program or building respectively. Having been a part of both entities over the past four years, I will say now that this can mean as little or as much as you make it to be. There are plenty of people who got nothing out of either experience, and there are others whose involvement was trajectory-defining. Falling in the latter category and having just finished my time at Tech this past May after 4 years in both Honors and the HRC, I have a lot of things left to say to those about to enter what I am leaving behind.
Walking through life is like walking through a series of rooms that are still being defined. Imagine huge, cathedral-size places of vastly different decoration that are connected by a series of normal-sized doors: as you walk forward, it’s hard to discern how far the next doorway is due to everything in between. As you look backward, you can clearly see the last door to have been walked through and a little bit of the interior of the room prior. The room’s size and length can vary wildly, but either way it’s hard to remember or focus beyond what is immediately around you. For most people, entering college is a walking into a completely new, unknown room. Initially it is quite foreign, rather scary, and has so much detail to see in every direction that the sight can be overwhelming. It takes some time to adjust to the loss of familiar surroundings, but slowly and gradually this room becomes their new comfort zone.
My favorite part about this analogy is the enclosedness of these rooms. We get so caught up with everything that’s around us that, after a certain point, it is difficult to look back at what we used to be and difficult to accurately look ahead at the future. Doorways mostly constrict vision in either direction outside of whatever phase we are in currently, and what we envision happening in the future versus the reality of what actually happens often differs drastically. It is a new, difficult place to find oneself in because of how rapidly change can occur and how unfamiliar everything is.
There are lots of ways to successfully “do” college, but they can all be broken up into two categories: ones of intentional foresight combined with efforts or ones of passive meandering throughout the years. It is difficult as hell to try to plan out your future path, especially sure if you aren’t even sure what you want to study. Regardless, that does not diminish the immeasurable value of doing so as best you can. I have always looked at as picking a direction, and then figuring out the details as you go. A direction can contain enough about your goals and interests to expose you to something new and exciting that wasn’t in your plan before, and adjust to compensate. It is a constantly reiterating process of evaluating and re-evaluating that should remain with you for a lifetime as you gain responsibilities and take control of what you do.
The HRC is a community containing some of the most dedicated, interesting, and brilliant people I have ever met at Virginia Tech. Residents there are almost suspiciously friendly, somewhat quirky, and generally are interested in doing significant acts now rather than after college. If you are interested in learning from others or being inspired to aim higher, then you are already home. The people here and the fact that they come from all years and all majors gives an invaluable wealth of guidance for underclassmen and a continuing legacy of students from years’ past. More was written about the HRC in a past post (The HRC) so will stop here, but it is my belief that students can amplify their college experience here through the mutual support and interest offered by its residents.
For those entering the HRC, I challenge you all to think long and hard about your desires and aspirations in college. Since most of you will live here for two years, how do you would want to shape the HRC as an individual and leave your legacy behind? What is most important for you to be doing, what skills would that require, and who could potentially connect you to such an opportunity. What kind of person do you want to become, and how do you want to impact Virginia Tech during your time here? These are not questions that many of you can answer now, but are ones that you should continuously keep coming back to. I am excited to see how others continue to impact others within the HRC in future years and think this building has something special to offer to the curious. Welcome.