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Strong College Class of 1999 Letters to the Class of 2003

Summer 1999

Dear Class of 2003,

Hi there! Welcome to four of the most interesting years of your life. As a member of the Class of 1999 that has graduated and gone out into the world, I’ve been asked to write you a letter about Strong College and to welcome you to UNCG. As I’ve been thinking about what to say in this letter, I’ve been constantly reminded of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum. In the book he compares the lessons we learned in kindergarten to the lessons and pressures we face now, as adults in the “real world.” If you’ll bear with me, I hope to use some of his rules and apply them to my memories of Strong College, especially my memories of that first year.

Rule #1: Share everything. This applies to your feelings and opinions as well as your monetary belongings. The first few weeks of college can be a scary experience. For many people, it’s the first time they’re away from what they’ve been used to for the past eighteen years. Those first few nights in the dorm you have two choices—get out of your room and socialize, or stay in and stay aloof. If you get out of your room and share, you’ll quite possibly find a lot of people like you, with the same interests and the same likes. You might even become friends with them. Strong College has so many opportunities to share, with activities including Tea, College Council, Literary Society, Coffee Bar, the list is endless.

Rule #2: Take a nap every afternoon. College is full of opportunities, however, many of them don’t fall into the normal 9–5 day. Many of the most interesting parts of college life are to be found outside of the lecture hall. Some of the best conversations I had were at 2:00 am in the Junior Common Room. Take advantage of these four years to cram in as much living as you can. Ask some older Strong College members about midnight Wal-Mart runs or trips to the beach just to watch the sun rise. Just remember to get your sleep!

Rule #3: Remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK. Opportunities are all around you, but sometimes they’re not just going to fall into your lap. The best advice I could give would be to get involved. Participate in the College Council, strike up a conversation with your next door neighbor, leave your door open one day and see who stops by.

Rule #4 (and the most important one): When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. One of the things that makes Strong College so wonderful is its sense of community. The people here really are a family. We live with each other almost ten months out of the year. We laugh together, cry together, and learn together. Remember that as you move in and as you begin your life here at UNCG. No one does it alone; don’t be shy to reach out to those around you.

In conclusion, these four (or five, or six) years could be some of the most meaningful of your life. When I say, “could be,” I mean that what you make of the next four years is up to you. Please, make Strong College an integral part of your college life. It will help and change you in more ways than you can imagine. Finally, welcome, and GOOD LUCK!!!

With warmest wishes,

Kelly Woodfin, CSC ’99
For the Class of 1999

Summer 1999

Welcome Class of 2003,

Now that you’ve had a chance to settle in a bit, I would like to introduce myself and offer something for you to chew on. I am a ghost, a ghost of residents past. Once I walked those halls like you, but now my footfalls are seldom heard there. Alas, it is my loss … and my gain.

Everyone has a list of advice for you when you go off to college. And to you as a new member of Strong College, I want to offer some advice as an alumnus of Strong College.

Be aware of opportunity. You’ve got four years to engage life before you are sentenced to grad school or the work force, both synonyms for hell. Explore, examine, connect!

Go out and do something. Don’t be a dorm rat skulking about your room, never seeing another person or the world around you. Walk down to the JCR, walk down the hall, walk down the street, bum at the library, bum on Tate St. Well maybe not on Tate St., but you’ll figure that out.

Get outside. UNCG has one of the most beautiful and well-designed campuses around. Walk around, breathe the air, feel the sun. Or better yet, get out into the woods and fields of Peabody Park. Look at the magnificent trees behind the high-rise dorms. Stroll along Buffalo Creek and look at the birds and wildflowers. See the natural splendor that is right next to you.

Get on Strong-L. Now. This is not optional, it is a moral and intellectual imperative.

Be a character. Put ridiculous things on your door. Be a polemicist on Strong-L. Question the powers that be, the powers that raise your fees and cut down trees. Gripe about it. Take a vow of adversity to Parking Services. Make fun of them and their myopic and humorless crusade to ticket. Mockery is more corrosive than sulfuric acid. Help out. Do something constructive. Help out on the Peabody Park restoration, join student government, volunteer.

Be a good student. Don’t be a grade monger: students and faculty alike loathe a grade monger. Ask questions, but don’t brown nose. Don’t brag about your success, there are a lot of smart people around this building—no one is impressed. Don’t whine about your workload, we all have a lot of work to do under adverse conditions. Do your work, do your work, do your work, do your work, but don’t EVER let anyone see you do it.

You are privileged to have an opportunity like the one before you. Get a hold on it, sink your teeth into it, don’t let go until they drag you away.

Rob Lawter, CSC ’99
For the Class of 1999

© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2021