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The Tiger

Opinion: From the perspective of a recent Clemson graduate

Oh, Clemson. I learned to love that seven-lettered word from a very young age, but it wasn’t until four years ago that I learned how important it really would become to me. Four years ago, I was an anxious freshman embarking on an unknown journey — searching for friends, a major specific to my skill set and passions, friends, a faith community, activities to fill my free time and friends … oh, did I say that already?

Basically, what I’m saying is that four years ago, I was absolutely terrified about my next chapter in life. I had a couple of friends from high school going to Clemson, but I was sure we would all end up involved in different organizations; I knew I would have to be independent to get involved. If you’re anxious like I was, take a deep breath and know that you’re not alone. Do you have an event you’re interested in attending? Ask literally anybody to go with you or go alone and see who you meet! Trust me, every other freshman is feeling just as nervous as you are and would be beyond excited to have Friday night plans with you to attend an event. The first step in conquering freshman year is to put yourself out there. It’s bold, empowering and rewarding, and once you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll be a pro in no time.

The good thing about Clemson is that it has every organization you could possibly be interested in — the Skydiving Club, Fencing Club, Rock Climbing Club, Greek life, Tiger Paw Productions (concert planning organization), student event organizations (Clemson Live and the Clemson Event Planners Association), endless campus ministries and way more! For you, it may be the Fencing Club. For me, it was the Swing and Shag Dance Club and making a fool of myself until I learned to dance. In addition to finding my home on the hardwood dance floors of Hardin Hall, I also found a home in the Clemson Wesley Foundation. Clemson Wesley is the United Methodist Church ministry on campus where free meals, fellowship and music were provided weekly to refill my spirit. Here, I found the very best friends in the world who challenged me to know myself better and love others deeper than I ever imagined.

Don’t be afraid to dive in and get to know your professors, too. Upon arrival to orientation before freshman year, I discovered Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management as a major. It was my dad who nudged me and said, “That sounds like you,” which led me on the start of that path. Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management was the best decision I could have made for a major, and my professors quickly became my mentors and friends outside of the classroom. I enjoyed countless opportunities from participating in a departmental honors research study to studying abroad to managing the department’s social media team. I encourage you to dive deep into your studies, get to know your professors and take opportunities when you find them.

College is a time for trying new things, meeting new friends and figuring out where you can serve this beautiful world. If you’re lucky, you might even get to witness a national championship. So, take a deep breath, make a bold move with that stranger you’ve been wanting to hang out with and know that everything will be ok. From the perspective of a recent Clemson graduate, I’d take all the nerves back and do it all over again. It’s that worth it. The world is your oyster; now go get ‘em Tiger.

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