Since my last post in late April, life has been a whirlwind. Exams, post-exam trip to Spain, beach week, tons of parties, graduation, LOTS of classmates streaking the Lawn, a few last nights in Charlottesville, a trip to Europe, another one to South Africa, and a bunch of weddings (including two Darden ones!).
Oh right. And one other thing that happened–and something we’re all tired of hearing about right now (all.those.EMAILS!)–the resignation of Terry Sullivan, followed by reinstating her a few weeks later.
I won’t belabor all the points that sum up what happened, but I do want to touch on one important thing as I have officially wrapped up my time at Darden–this whole storm has reminded me of just what it means to be a Virginia Wahoo.
When we got the first email about the news, I was in Europe with a friend of mine. Thanks to an abundance of wifi there, I got the news in pretty much real time and just kept muttering “Oh my God” over and over again. I emailed a college friend of mine and we made an eerily right hypothesis: there was much more to the story, and we just had to sit back and watch it all unravel.
And unravel it did. In a big, bad way.
As a Double Hoo, I had two sets of people asking me what I thought about what went down–Darden friends who asked me what I thought as somebody that also attended UVA for my undergraduate education, and then also my college friends who wanted to know what I thought of Terry Sullivan and the whole fiasco, considering that she was the President of UVA for the full two years I was at Darden. At first, as news articles were spitting out muddled facts about the case, and as we were inundated with emails from every possible organization–Alumni Association, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Virginia, Darden, Darden Alumni…the list goes on–I felt a sense of shame. WTF happened, UVA?
But then the protests on the Lawn started happening, and from across the world, I just wanted to be in one place (well…look at the pics below. To be fair, I wish I could have been in two places at once!): back in Charlottesville and a part of whatever was happening. As annoying as all those emails were, I found myself opening them before anything else (yes, even above Facebook notifications and emails from friends & family)–usually coupled with an eye roll.
And then that sense of shame and embarrassment for UVA turned into pride. Other schools often talk smack about UVA–how pretentious we are for calling it “the University”, our appreciation for Mr. Jefferson, referring to campus as “the grounds”, and so on–but all of that is just rooted in an immense source of pride and dedication to the school. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs were all inundated with a common theme: alumni and students standing behind their school, an institution known for being rooted in rich history and tradition but also progressive and open to making changes.
That description pretty much sums up most of the students and alumni I know from school, too.
Students, alumni, administration, and faculty came out of the woodwork, seemingly in droves, to show their support for the school. People who never seemed to have muttered as much as a “Wahoowa!” were suddenly showing support for the institution where they spent a formative time of their lives. This perhaps also goes to show that we all demonstrate our UVA pride in different ways, whether it’s still wearing ties to football games (a tradition I’m sad to see has dissipated over the years!) to honoring the UVA name through ethical decisions to the workplace each and every day to writing a donation check to pay forward a scholarship that an alum received back in their day. Every single person who has walked across the Lawn on graduation Sunday has had a different yet valuable UVA experience, and all of those people are in the world putting their education to (hopefully) good use.
Virginia Wahoos are strong, dedicated, motivated, curious, and–as the most recent event reminded us–resilient (…and stubborn). If you really are the company you keep, then I can’t imagine a better set of alumni I would want to be a part of. Twice.
For my own transitions and next steps, I officially moved out of Charlottesville yesterday and I am moving to Minneapolis in August to do brand management at General Mills. It’s a move that I’m both nervous and excited about, but ultimately I know it’s the best decision and, most importantly, for the right reasons. The upcoming months will definitely be ones of much change for me, but the University name on my diplomas that will be hung up in my new digs will be a constant reminder of what it means to really be a Wahoo and how each of us carries that with us every day, all over the world.
(In order: Barcelona-Spain, Dingle-Ireland, Santorini-Greece, Munich-Germany, Dubrovnik-Croatia, Bukura-Montenegro, Stellenbosch-South Africa–the UVA colors here were intentional for Mr. Jefferson’s 4th of July!)