by Celia Konowe, Class of 2021
At age five, I sat in my first lecture hall, in awe of the built-in desks, endless rows of seats, and rotating chalkboards that seemed nothing short of magic. To my right was one of my closest family friends who, like me, was visiting campus for the first time, and as legacies, we watched in amazement as our parents guided us through the winding tunnels and towering stacks. It was then, my first Meliora Weekend in the fall of 2004, when I truly saw my dad’s unwavering love for this campus and community come to life.
That autumn day in Hubbell Auditorium, I giggled and squirmed as our parents snapped pictures of us, their soon-to-be Yellowjackets (“Class of 2021!” they bragged all weekend to fellow alumni). I was completely unaware that thirteen years in the future, I’d be seated in the same room and next to the same friend, scribbling notes during a CHM 131 lecture and still not quite believing myself to be the college student that I so long envisioned.
The brainwashing (as we jokingly refer to my dad’s seventeen years of gentle but consistent persuasion) began long before that pivotal first visit. For as long as I can remember, every corner of our house has been stocked with the iconic blue ink Rochester pens and our collection of ‘Jacket spirit wear has never waned. As a result, Rochester became the grading scale against which I compared all other schools and before every college tour, my dad had to gently remind me to keep an open mind.
During my senior year Meliora Weekend trip in high school, I walked into my official interview with the Office of Admissions, an indiscernible mix of excitement, fear, and determination. After what felt like eons (in reality, it was only about five months), I finally received an email that my admission status had been updated. Panicking, I told myself I’d wait for my parents to get home and I closed my laptop to get a snack.
Not two minutes later, I was seated again on my bedroom floor, hurriedly logging into my email and trying to push aside the hundreds of thoughts flooding my mind. What if I don’t get in? I probably got in. You know, I’ll be okay if I don’t get in. Oh my God, I’m over-thinking this. Looking back on it, I don’t remember much between opening the link to my portal and the subsequent phone call to my parents made in tears. My next call was to my best friend, whose first words were, “I told you that you’d get in, you dingus.” Even though my dad—who was the voice of reason throughout my entire application process—advised me to hold out until I had seen all my offers and weighed my options, I knew from the minute I saw the word “Congratulations!” that I was going to Rochester; there had never been a doubt in my mind.
To me, the transition during the first few weeks of college was visibly seamless. The biggest adjustment was learning how to use the weird gaps of time that I had scattered throughout the day. Of course, as any first year would, I also had my fair share of awkward moments that I not-so-convincingly tried to hide, but the crushing waves of homesickness never hit me like they did some of my friends. Beyond those little moments, every aspect of college life came together fluidly. My class schedule lined itself up neatly, my hall mates quickly became my closest group of friends, and I joined as many clubs as I could. I’ve felt truly welcome on campus since I moved in and the short time I’ve been here has seemed like months’ worth of activity, proving that time really does fly when you’re having fun.
As I sit on the balcony of Rush Rhees overlooking the quad and editing this post, I can’t help but pinch myself every once in a while to make sure I’m really here. For as long as I can remember, Rochester has fulfilled my ideals of a university; my younger self worshiped every trip to campus and never failed to absorb every second spent here. The annual trips provided me with a glimpse not only into my future, but into the type of academic and social setting where I aspired to thrive.
I’m incredibly proud to call myself a Yellowjacket and I eagerly await the many Meliora Weekends to come. Here’s to the next four years.