For the past 12 months, I have had the privilege to serve this student body as the 2013-2014 Student Association president. If you were to tell me I would begin an article with that statement four years ago, I would have guessed this was our first time meeting and you were slightly confused. I was a very different person with very different goals and ambitions. My intent coming to this campus was not to one day be the representative of over 20,000 students. My goal was to graduate and have a good time doing it.
I have spent the past year working with our top administration to push through policies and advocate on behalf of all Bulldog students. Four years ago, the only interaction I had with administration was taking place in the Dean of Students Office due to “a large amount of unchecked guests occupying my residence hall room”...whatever that means. I spent the last year working in the SA office over weekends, Christmas holidays and even throughout this past week during spring break. Four years ago, I went home to Memphis every chance I got, I relived the high school glory days all Christmas break long, and I was beaching with the best of them in Destin during the coveted spring break week. To say the least, things have changed and will continue to do so.
I have spent these last four years trying samples of this campus. Work a little here. Get involved a little there. Unintentionally, I grew to know this place more than I ever thought I would. Unintentionally, I grew to know this place as home. My home is now embedded in the roots of Starkville, Miss. If you would have told me that statement came from me four years ago, I again would have questioned your sanity. I had a very different and unexpected journey, not only as SA president, but more so as a Bulldog in general. My path was not a concrete mindset I came to Mississippi State University with; rather, it was one I paved due to the willingness to accept opportunities as they came my way.
I accepted opportunities to grow in my faith by listening to the differences in beliefs shared by my group of friends. I accepted opportunities to grow in my perspective by listening to the journeys other Bulldogs have taken from different cultural and racial backgrounds. I accepted opportunities to grow in my acceptance by taking time to hear viewpoints from students with different political views or sexual orientations. I accepted opportunities to grow as a leader by accepting my faults as opportunities to improve. I accepted opportunity to grow in confidence by realizing and admitting when I am wrong (which is more often than I care to think).
My purpose in writing this typical SA send-off letter is to encourage you all to sincerely work to accept those unexpected changes in your personal journey, take advantage of opportunity and to do your best to leave your preconceived judgments behind you. We are all truly unaware of journeys that people have taken in their lives, and we surely are blind to see where these journeys will continue. I hope all of you walk away from this place with a mind that can be described as the following: open, willing, sharp, experienced, accepting and intentional. These characteristics are ones I look to build on every day, but I know I will graduate from MSU having all of those qualities portrayed as important and ones that have been improved due to my experiences as a Bulldog. Thank you all for everything you do for this campus, but above all, thank you for letting me serve you in this role that I never saw coming down my path.