At the beginning of this school year, my roommates and I posed for a “first day of school photo” — just like I did with my little brother for the first seventeen years of my life. Except this time, I posed with the somewhat-goofily written “It’s the beginning of the end.”
I’m a senior, which means that last week marked my “last first day of school” (at least for the foreseeable future). By this point in life, most of us have experienced enough “lasts” to realize that they induce a bit of a nostalgic, or at least reflective, haze. I’ve gone from class to work to rehearsals every day for the last week, but it’s been with the uncanny awareness that this is the last time my whole life will shift the second week of January, it’s the last time I’ll ever go from class to work to rehearsal, and it’s the last time I’ll experience a semester at Southern Virginia University.
And of course, partially due to my ingrained tendency toward sentimentality, the nostalgia hit. And it hit hard. I took special notice of all the things I know I’ll miss about the Southern Virginia experience. I love that:
I go to a university so focused on the “genius of small” that my British literature class of 27 students is large enough to make me do a double-take when I walk into the classroom.
I pass professors every day on campus who call out to me by name and share inside jokes.
An on-campus job means that essentially my entire life takes place on this quaint campus of ours.
I can walk from any classroom to another in less than ten minutes.
I can’t go anywhere on campus and not find someone I know by name and who knows mine.
We’re surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are so enchanting that they somehow still maintain some pastoral beauty in January when most of their foliage is dead.
I can see a church steeple from my office window.
I can walk into any class during my first week of school and feel like I’m surrounded by people who really know me, professors included.
I know that I have received just the education I wanted. I learned not only what I needed to know, but what I wanted to know.
Southern Virginia really has captured the genius of small, but it’s also captured the beauty of history, the virtue of the liberal arts, the importance of individuals, and the power of connections. As this semester starts, and I’m sure I’ll feel this just as strongly as it comes to a close in May, I feel all the more certain that I made the right choice three years ago to leap across the country and choose Southern Virginia as the map for my college adventure.
(Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16.)