Dear Georgia Tech,
Well. This isn’t how I thought we would be ending our journey together. I’m trying to buy into the idea that “it’s the climb” that matters, not reaching the top. Right now it feels a bit like we have turned around a few steps from the top of this mountain.
The only thing I can think to do or say is to express gratitude to you and the lessons I have learned here. So that’s what I will do.
Freshman year, I moved into Howell Hall. I left my door open as much as I could that first weekend, hoping that people would stop in and introduce themselves. They did. The girls I met on the second floor of Howell remain some of my closest friends to this day.
I said yes to everything those first few weeks. I said yes to cheesy freshman activities, to writing for the Technique, to attending every event I was invited to, to exploring campus late at night. This spirit of willingness and openness has transformed my Tech experience. I think in some ways I am still the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman I used to be.
Thank you, Tech, for teaching me how to be open.
Sophomore year, I struggled. I suffered from severe anxiety and a constant, paralyzing fear. I hid under the counter when I heard a loud noise. I had panic attacks. I stepped down from my position as News Editor. I felt I was letting you, Georgia Tech, down.
Through all of this, you continued to expect the best from me. For better or for worse, the world was continuing to move on around me, and at some point I had to pick myself up and carry on. Once I decided to do this, it took all my strength, and all of the support of my loved ones. But I know now that I can pick myself up again and again.
Thank you, Tech, for teaching me how to weather a storm.
Junior year, I had returned from a summer in Europe. I felt refreshed and bold. I applied for internships at companies I had never even heard of, and in the spring I moved across the country for a semester in California. I spent the next few months in Austin. I traveled, and I met new people. I learned how to be alone, which was the scariest of all.
I felt like I had been equipped with skills I needed to make something of myself. That summer, I accepted a job offer. I fully committed myself to my future.
Thank you, Tech, for teaching me how to be brave.
Senior year, I felt secure. It was in that security that I grew the most. I began to settle into the person I know I am. I mentored younger writers, invested in new relationships, spent more time outdoors. I still lived within a few steps of those same girls from my freshman hall, but now they cooked with me in our apartment or grabbed coffee for a study session off campus. I enjoyed lunch with my coworkers on a sunny March day and walks with LMC friends between classes.
Most of all, I felt like I belonged on this campus, with these people. I loved the trees on Cherry Street and the flowers by Tech Tower. The best place to nap was on the red couch in the Technique office, and the best place to sit on a blanket with friends was Tech Green. I had cried in the Skiles Garden, and I had heard my laugh echo in the atrium of the architecture building.
Thank you, Tech, for giving me a second home and a chosen family.
I think it is only through this forced distance that I have truly fallen in love with you, Tech. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunities, relationships, knowledge and passion that has arisen through my time with you.
I will be back someday to walk across the stage and toss my cap into the air. THWg.