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2013 Induction Ceremony

Remarks by April Ballard [Listen]

I have some heartbreaking news for all you new college students.

The picture of college that is painted in your head is not going to be how your experience turns out here. No, you won’t get to make up a fake college and create your own classes like in the movie Accepted. There won’t be those ridiculous parties where everyone looks supermodel gorgeous and the two fraternities have a battle like something from West Side Story. And, luckily, Transylvania is NOTHING like the movie American Pie 2. There are no people like Stifler here.

“Take in every moment you have here. Learn from everything and everyone you come in contact with.”

I am certain that your spirits are now crushed due to your dying dream; however, I can promise you that the reality you find here will be much better than any dream you can make up in your head.

Since enrolling in college, I am positive that you have heard countless lectures about valuing your education, studying hard, not getting too distracted—and those are all very important things to take into account; however, that is not the message I’m here to give you today.

I am in no way encouraging you to not study or skip class, but Transylvania is about more than just the classroom. You can go to any university in the nation and get an education. Transylvania offers more than just that.

As I’m about to start my senior year, I can’t help but get slightly nostalgic about my experience here and envious of each of you, of the seats you are sitting in today. My advice to you? Take in every moment you have here. Learn from everything and everyone you come in contact with. Stretch your boundaries, explore others’ lifestyles and morals, question what used to be normal to you, because in college everything is different and this is the time to really discover who you are and who you want to be.

This university and the people here will become your family. Peers, faculty, and staff will become your support system, your home away from home. Being a good student is very important, but finding your niche is more important.

I know as student body president it’s assumed that I HAVE to say that and tell each of you to get involved with student government, but there’s more to it than just that. I have seen all sorts of people come through this university in my time here and the ones that enjoyed themselves the most, the ones that benefited the most were the ones who were involved, who found their niche here. They found themselves by investing in this university and the people around them.

There are so many opportunities here for each one of you, whether it be student government, campus recreation, Greek life, community service, the list goes on. Explore your passions, become a part of something bigger than yourself, and, if you do that, I promise you will find your home here.

My second piece of advice for you: don’t fear rejection. It can be assumed that some of you were top of your class in high school: maybe you were the star athlete, you had straight A’s, were class president. To be coming to Transy you have accomplished a lot, but look around this room. These people are all similar to you. They have each worked hard and achieved just as much as you, maybe even more. Take these people and times them by three and you have our entire university.

In December you may get your first B, maybe even a C. You may apply for something here and not get it. You may not be able to handle being a part of three organizations and keep up with your school work. This will come as a shock. It will be hard. It could very well be the first time you were rejected from anything, but it’s a learning experience. Don’t let the fear of being rejected stop you from trying.

I’ll be honest; I applied for three different opportunities here before I finally got selected for something. I was discouraged. I didn’t want to apply for anything else. I assumed I wouldn’t get it because everyone here is so deserving, but an upperclassman gave me the advice I’m about to give you: don’t give up. It’s hard to hear no, it’s even harder to try again after hearing no, but that is the type of people they are looking for in leadership positions. Learn from hearing no, adjust your résumé, and ask what you could have done better.

These people will become your family, and as a family we help each other grow and become better, to develop into our best selves. Remember that no is not the end of the world.

Well, enough of the heavy stuff for one speech. Now to the good stuff, the advice that will ensure your survival here: no matter what the sophomores say, back lobby is not called blobby (same goes for flobby); the food place in the bottom of Thomson is not called Sandela’s (it will always be known as the 80—no one will know what you’re talking about if you refer to it as Sandela’s); when you see a car coming on Broadway just put your head down and keep walking. (OK, don’t really do that! You will get hit. Wave politely at them to thank them for not hitting you.) YES, the dean of students, Dean LoMonaco, does wear black every day, but, no, she is not evil; never call it the cafeteria (it’s the caf, and no one judges how you dress when you show up there, especially in the mornings and on the weekends); also expect to spend at least an hour there for every meal socializing; and, finally, get used to the vampire jokes. (You will hear them from all your high school friends, family members, and random citizens for the rest of your life, and, yes, it does get old).

The great thing about Transy is that if all the students were in this room right now, they would know exactly what I’m talking about. You aren’t just a number here like you would be at a large university, so don’t act like one! Step up to the challenge, find your passion, don’t give up, and get ready for the best four years of your life.

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