To the Class of 2023

Nicole Manges
From one grad to another...

The day I graduated from Huntington University was incredibly windy — hot and windy, in fact. I remember standing at the corner of the Fieldhouse (where Commencement took place) waiting for my family to find me after the ceremony, the wind billowing my graduation gown around my legs. After being surrounded by hundreds of people in the decidedly NOT air-conditioned Fieldhouse, standing alone in the bracing breeze was a relief. 

I could make a metaphor here about graduation and the winds of change, but I’ll save that for another time. The important fact right now is that my standing on HU’s home campus for graduation that day was a miracle in and of itself.  

My earliest memories of being an HU student are not happy ones. I started crying the night before move-in day and more or less continued all the way through the New Student Dedication service 24 hours later. I’m not a big crier, so that says a lot. The massive life changes that came with moving away from home and starting college felt like way more than I could handle.   

After the sadness came “emotional deadness.” For the first couple of weeks of class, I felt numb. I was just trying to survive. Classes were fine — the academic side of things was never really a problem — but adjusting to life away from family was an acute struggle. I seriously considered leaving HU and attending a commuter school back home in Ohio. By the time I felt better, it was fall break, and I had to leave home again after spending my break there. I cried…again.  

One good thing came out of my miserable car ride back to campus, though: I decided that I would stay at HU for one whole academic year. Even in my wrecked emotional state, I knew that I wasn’t giving college life a fair shot unless I saw it through to the end of spring semester.  

My decision to stay for “just a year” is one of several reasons why I am still at Huntington University nine years later. If I hadn’t resolved to see what God could do with my freshman year of college, I wouldn’t be working here now, and I wouldn’t have stood outside the Fieldhouse in May 2018, diploma in hand, waiting for my family and trying to keep my graduation cap from blowing off my head in the wind.  

Everything that happened (good and bad) during my four years as an HU student led to the moment I could finally say with joy that I am an HU graduate. A proud member of the Forester Nation. And soon, Class of 2023, you will be able to say the same.  

Whatever has led you to this moment, I pray that you will be able — on Graduation day or some day five years from now — to look back and see the work that God accomplished in your life during your time as an HU student. My guess is that it was something pretty incredible, perhaps even miraculous. And the best part is that this work will continue well past your time as a student.  

From one grad to another: As you go out from this place and into the next phase of your lives, always remember that you are a Forester. Carry that spirit with you wherever you go, and come home to visit us when you can.   

We’ll save you a spot in the DC.  

Written by
Nicole Manges