To NC State

Here is to the people and programs that have shaped my life at NC State.

Dear NC State,

With my third year quickly coming to an end, I cannot help but reflect on how much I have learned, how much I have grown, and how much I have loved my college experience thus far. Especially now, as the thought of upcoming finals creeps in, it is so easy for me to keep my mind moving forward and focused on my goals. However, I want to take the time to reflect and say thank you for all that I have experienced in just three years.

Thank you, NC State, for embracing me with open arms since I moved into Syme Hall my freshman year, excited but terrified for a new chapter of my life to begin. I remember trying to attend nearly every event of Welcome Week on campus with my roommate (who is still one of my closest friends to this day), and just feeling a sense of belonging from the start. Thank you for filling your campus with inspiring, driven people. NC State is incredibly diverse, and listening to others tell their stories of what their lives was like before college and how much they have accomplished since arriving in Raleigh, really pushes me to do more and be more. Thank you for forcing me out of my shell, and challenging me to change many of my ideas and perspectives.

To the College of Education, thank you for everything you have done for me by surrounding me with passionate future-educators that cannot wait to impact students’ lives some day. My classes allow me to build off of my peers, and the support system provided by this program is unlike anything I expected when coming to college. Thank you to my professors. Teachers in high school tell you that professors in college do not care about you, that your classes are going to be full of hundreds of other students, and that you will be nothing more than a number. This could not be further from reality in my experience in the College of Education. The professors care about each and every one of us, push us to be the best, and take the time to get to us on a personal level. Thank you for getting me into the classroom as much as possible. My many experiences have already impacted my life in huge ways and I feel even more prepared to begin student teaching full time in less than a year from now.

It can be easy for me to keep my eyes forward, moving as fast as possible to that moment where I will be standing in my cap and gown, diploma in hand. However, it is important to also look back every now and then and consider how fortunate I am.

Thank you Delta Zeta and to the Panhellenic community as a whole. I am a part of the largest all-women organization on campus, and I am so grateful to be surrounded by such empowering women each and every day. Thank you for providing me with opportunities to be a leader and give back. Being a part of Circle of Sisterhood, a philanthropy whose mission is to improve women’s education around the world, has been a fantastic experience and I have had the opportunity to meet women from all of the Greek organizations on campus. I am also looking so forward to being a recruitment counselor in the fall so I can share my story and help others through the process of joining a sorority that is best for them. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and supporting me through all of my endeavors. From the late nights of studying in the library to the late-night Pokey Stick orders, my sisters in Delta Zeta have been there for the good and the bad. Being a part of this organization has shaped who I am as a person and leader, and I am sure that the relationships I have made will last a lifetime.

Thank you to the Goodnight Scholars Program. Although I have mentioned many aspects of my college career, I likely have this Program to thank the most for making these past three years as wonderful as they have been. A debt-free college education, accompanied by caring staff and meaningful workshops, are things that very few students on this campus have the chance to experience. Thank you for bringing me to NC State and for showing me that this is my home from Interview Day to the present. Thank you for the countless opportunities I have been given, like being a mentor, writing this blog, and serving on the LEGO Brick Build Committee for one of our largest events of the year. These positions have pushed me at times, but I have gained unique leadership skills that I could not have developed anywhere else. Thank you for believing in me and for showing me what it means to pay it forward. There are times when I speak with other scholars in my cohort and think about how blessed I am to be listening to their incredible accomplishments. I may not always see my strengths, but the staff of this Program continue to encourage me to reach my fullest potential and give back to the Program.  I am so grateful for this community and all that it provides for me.

It can be easy for me to keep my eyes forward, moving as fast as possible to that moment where I will be standing in my cap and gown, diploma in hand. However, it is important to also look back every now and then and consider how fortunate I am. Thank you NC State for making my first three years of college unforgettable. As we sing in the Alma mater, “Our hearts ever hold you, NC State, in the folds of our love and pride!”. My heart will forever hold onto you and I will forever bleed red.

Gratefully yours,

Lauren Smith