Goodbye, sayonara, later …

This is going to be tough.

I have always hated change. I hate how uncomfortable it makes me. I hate the feeling of not knowing what is next. And now, my childhood home is being sold and I’m graduating college. I absolutely hate change. But… regardless of my hatred, change is good.

Before I entered college, I never really thought UVa-Wise was anything special. Being from Southwest Virginia, I grew up hearing about the college and, for whatever reason, I assumed it was nothing special. I had big dreams of going to a large university and leaving the area for the next four years. But the idea of being comfortable got the better of me and I enrolled at UVa-Wise.

And I have never once regretted my decision.

Let’s get back to change. If you want to see change, anyone who knows me, go look at my social media posts from about 5 years ago. Please don’t make fun of me, my girlfriend does that enough, just go look and see the change. I owe all of that to UVa-Wise.

There are so many experiences that I have had at this small college that I would have never gotten anywhere else.

I’ve made some great memories, some great friends and a lot of mistakes. I have had my heart broken at UVa-Wise; I have nearly failed classes at UVa-Wise; I have emotionally broken down every April I have been in college at UVa-Wise; I have fallen in love at UVa-Wise; I have been happier than I have ever been at UVa-Wise; I have been successful at UVa-Wise.

But no matter what has happened, I have learned and grown in some way.

Maybe it is not the college itself that has changed me, but the wonderful people that I have met here. There are three groups of people that have made my time here so special and I would like to use this platform to show my appreciation for all of them.

I would like to start by thanking Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and all my incredible brothers. Being a “frat guy” was never something I envisioned or desired. But being a fraternity man has changed my life forever. Pi Kappa Phi has given me a type of friendship that I did not know was possible. It has opened doors for me that will allow me to be successful after college.

There are a few people I would like to give special thanks to.

Tucker Price, thank you for being relentless in forcing me to join the organization. You literally annoyed me into a great decision.

Travis Kennedy, thank you for never hesitating to assist me in anything I needed and thank you for your dedication in advising us. Joshua Sawyers, thank you for being my big brother and making me think about how to define myself as a person.

Also, I would like to thank The Highland Cavalier. The newspaper was my first extracurricular activity that I became involved with. Really, the paper was the first thing that got me to step outside my comfort zone and meet other people on campus. I owe that to Mike Still, our fantastic advisor who goes above and beyond daily to make sure we succeed.

Mike, I have no doubt in my mind that if I got arrested tomorrow, you’d either bail me out or tell terrible jokes until the police lost their minds and let me go.

Also, thank you to Hannah Mullins, the wonderful managing editor this year; the paper could not be released without you and I apologize for annoying you at every one of our meetings.

Finally, I want to thank the Communications department here at UVa-Wise. Specifically, I want to thank Dr. Rachel Tighe and Dr. Amy Clark.

Dr. Tighe, I have always appreciated your brutal honesty and dedication to teaching this fascinating field of study. Also, I want to say that you told me last fall that I could probably not be Editor-In-Chief, an officer in the fraternity, and work at Walmart while taking senior level classes. Last semester, I had my highest GPA ever, so thanks for the motivation and letting me prove you wrong hahaha.

Dr. Clark, thank you for being so picky about all my papers and presentations. Your teaching style has taught me to be meticulous in all my schoolwork and how to analyze many different parts of my everyday life.

I am positive that I have missed some people to thank during this brief goodbye article. To those of you who I did not personally mention, I want you to know that you have contributed to my growth in your own unique way and if there is ever anything I can do for you, I will do my best to repay the debt I owe you.

I will miss this college more than anything and I will reminisce the times I had here with a smile on my face. But I am excited for the next step and moving on to the next part of my life with the people I care about most.

Thank you, UVa-Wise. I hope I changed you a fraction of how much you changed me.

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