Five or six years ago, Wake Forest created the Wake Forest Fellows program, which is designed to give graduating seniors who might want to have a career in university work a one-year appointment to work in one of the main offices at Wake Forest; in our division, University Advancement, our Fellows typically work two years. Wherever they are placed, the Fellows get to work on special projects while seeing firsthand what it is like working in higher education. These Fellows are typically among our best and brightest, but also those who think they want to give back. Certainly to Mother So Dear, their alma mater, but potentially to make a career of it helping students in other settings. You can read about the Fellows program here.
I have worked with many Fellows over the years, and they are delightful. Smart. Motivated. Passionate about Wake Forest. Eager to learn. And while every July I am thrilled to meet the new ones, it is with a heavy heart that I watch the previous ones go on to their next job after their Fellowship ends, especially those that I know well.
One of our Fellows left this July to go on to a very good role after Wake Forest. He sent a goodbye note around to some of his colleagues here, and I was happy to be on that distro list. I talked to him about his note, because I thought it was really beautiful and might shed some light for parents on what we hope your students find during their time on campus. Personal growth, fulfillment, happiness, love for our school.
Though he has given me his permission to use his letter (and I have edited slightly to remove some personal details), I don’t want to put his name on it, because I suspect the feelings are representative of some of the others too.
Here it is. Go forth and do well, my Fellow friend.
Though I left the office on Friday, today is my last official day with a wfu.edu email address. I wanted to tell you what a pleasure it was working here for the past two years. Most alums walk across the stage on graduation day, look up at Wait Chapel, and never want to leave this wonderful place. Luckily for me, some of you thought it was a good idea to let me spend a little more time at Mother So Dear. I am so very grateful that you did.
Growing up, there was no doubt in my mind where I wanted to go to college. Since I can remember, my wardrobe has been dominated by black and gold, and my weekends (and some weekdays when I begged really hard) were dominated by trips to Winston to see the Deacs play. And though for the first time in six years I won’t be a constant on the Reynolda campus, I can’t imagine that the weekly pilgrimage won’t continue. This place is too special for me to stay away. Being on campus everyday, we don’t always see the forest for the trees (pun intended), but inevitably, an “aha!” moment comes along to help us remember why we are where we are and why we do what we do. I’ve been gone for 4 days and have already had scores of these moments, making leaving this place even harder than it already was.
Before [colleague of the Fellow] sobs too much more over his keyboard and his tears cause his computer to short, I’ll say farewell. Thank you for what you do for my alma mater, and thank you for making me feel at home for the past two years. And as always…