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Dear Jayhawk

August 23, 2015

I cannot begin to express how lucky you are to be a Jayhawk. Always keep in mind how wonderful of a place KU is, even on the days when it feels like it’s not.

You are in a magical place. (It would have to be magical to have a mascot that’s a mythical bird). What you choose to do on Mount Oread will help you grow into the person you are meant to become. Who will that person be? Is it the person you always imagined you would be? Or someone entirely different? In the end, those last two questions don’t really matter. What matters is you cherish your time as a Jayhawk and leave Lawrence a little better than you found it.

Here are my wishes for you, as you begin another year of school:

I hope you find people who will support you, encourage you, challenge you and walk through college with you. You may have already met some of these people, or they may be passing you on Jayhawk Boulevard, and you don’t even know it yet. Make time to hang out, explore and talk about life with them. You are in college to get an education and be prepared for post-college life, but none of it matters if you’re not also making memories with people you care about.

I hope you go to class, but also don’t. I probably attended more than 95 percent of my classes over my four years. After all, you’re spending the tuition money either way. But I also don’t regret not going to class. The extracurriculars involved in college are, in many ways, just as important as getting that degree. To put it another way, I remember when the Dole Institute gathered dozens of its former Fellows on campus for a reunion in October of my junior year, as I attended that event instead of my Biology 101 class. I could not, however, tell you much of what I learned in that class that semester.

I hope you find a place that makes you feel like you belong on this huge campus. For me, that place sophomore year was the Dole Institute. It was my own little corner of the world, and there, I grew into more of myself, while meeting some cool people along the way. It’s easy to get lost at a big university. Finding a place like the Dole Institute will make you feel more at home.

I hope you develop a passion that keeps you busy during the day and up at night. I spent so many days in the newsroom and so many nights not being able to sleep because I was thinking about what to do with a newscast or story. It’s a passion I carry with me today, and something I wish on everyone.

I hope you meet a mentor who you continue to talk to even after you walk down the hill. Whether you meet that person in the classroom, at an activity or at a job, I hope you learn from them, are torn down by them and are built up by them. You can – and will – learn a lot in the classroom, but you won’t learn everything there.

Do as much as you can in your next few years at KU, because college is about more than a GPA. Keep up with studying and homework and that GPA, but I want you to have the experiences that will make your time as a Jayhawk even more magical. Study abroad, go to sporting events, see speakers, stay out later than you should on a school night, do internships, get a job, go to Mass. St., join a club, find what it means to you to be a Jayhawk. You’ll be a Jayhawk for life, but those four years sure do fly by.

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