Bittersweet Retrospective

Transfer Goodnight Scholar Vie Villafuerte Patino on-campus at NC State University.

Every time I say that I am a senior, I am in disbelief. Time has gone very fast, I would say speed-of-light kind of fast. It seems like time is the tortoise and I am the hare. 

I remember the uncontained excitement I had during my first semester at NC State. Being able to attend this university was one of my biggest goals, but back in community college, it felt unattainable mainly due to financial reasons. Once I received my acceptance into the Goodnight Scholars Program, I felt like the happiest person alive. I took it as a reassuring sign that reminded me that hard work pays off and that I belonged here. Eagerness grew in me more than ever and as soon as I started my journey at NC State, I wanted to explore everything I could and go to all the events possible just like how I did when I was at community college. 

Before I transferred in, I was really involved in student life at Central Piedmont Community College— leadership roles, weekly meetings, tabling, volunteering, and event planning occupied my time after classes. I thought, “if I did it there, what’s stopping me from doing it here?” What I failed to realize is that there is so much more going on in the university than what I could possibly think of. There are hundreds of student organizations, weekly events from each department, multiple daily emails with information about research, study abroad, internships, job offers, and fun activities. I then recognized that I needed to find my niche if I really wanted to make the most out of my 3 years here, otherwise, I would have to give up the primary functions of human life, and I don’t think the latter is sustainable or feasible. 

Despite my excitement, a few weeks into the semester, I had to pause and focus more on my classes. They had started to get difficult and the adaptation process of being a transfer student started to get to me. I took the future for granted because I solely prioritized my classes with the idea that I will have time during my next semesters to have fun and be more involved. Then, COVID gave us an unexpected visit that hindered lives around the world. Now that we are back to in-person classes after about a year and a half, I have regained my enthusiastic commitment to having a well-rounded college experience and leaving a meaningful wolfprint. 

During lockdown, I got involved in research, a couple of student organizations, and continued my ambassador role in the Goodnight Scholars Program. My niche revolves around sustainability and environmentalism. I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to work on making our campus more sustainable through the Sustainability Stewards, bringing awareness about environmental issues happening in developing countries such as the lack of access to safe drinking water through the Global WaSH student organization, and contributing to making our Goodnight community more inclusive with content that showcases our talents, passions, backgrounds, and vast diversity by being a Communications Assistant for the Program. 

Looking back at my time at NC State, feelings of nostalgia emerge at every remembrance. I’m not ready for this experience to come to an end. I acted like a hare by trying to be ahead and jumping to the next step until the unprecedented circumstances of life made us all take a long pause while time kept its rhythm. So, the advice I’d like to give you is to tap your feet on the ground, smell the scents around you, listen to the crackling leaves and chatting voices nearby, and enjoy your present. Leave stress and worry behind because it is going to be okay. You are here now, you belong here, and someone out there is rooting for you. The pack has your back and all you really need to do is ask. It is okay if you want to have a plan, but it is just as fun to spontaneously get coffee with someone and accidentally take the wrong bus on your way there. Don’t wait until you are less busy to have fun even if it is just for an hour. There is plenty of opportunities to fix that low test grade, so take a deep breath and explore around until you find that one thing that makes you excited as soon as you wake up every morning. Before you know it, the tortoise will catch up, but at the finish line, you will look back in joy thinking of all the tears that you successfully wiped away and all the laughs that made your soul shake.