Friday, August 10, 2018

First Days of College

It is always a humbling experience to be the adult who drops off a child at college.  One of our students admitted two years ago that he kept looking out his dorm window for the first two weeks, like some sort of recovery from trauma at home, when he always needed to know who was coming for him. 

Two weeks ago, I wrote our soon-to-be fifteen college freshmen: 

“Tomorrow the first of you departs for school.  On reflecting on the last three years, I am especially grateful for you all.  You have, just in the past year, battled homelessness, the death of a parent, the sudden departure of your principal, and God knows what else.  You have gotten jobs, badgered teachers and counselors, confided in me or your mentors, and just plain persevered.  You have excelled in school and in sports.

And you are not done with us.  One reason our students complete college at a rate five times the national average is we and you stay in touch.  Expect frequent texts and calls from me to see how you are doing.  I am also planning on seeing all of you on campus in a meeting with either your favorite professor or your advisor.  Here is the schedule: 

Sept 24-28--Ohio and West Virginia
Oct 2-4--Norfolk

Oct 9-12--Petersburg, North and South Carolina

I'll come back to you all with specific dates of my visiting as the days approach.  Those of you who are inside the Beltway--we don't need to plan ahead quite as much.

This is the beginning of our next phase, where RISE can still be of help to you as you become more and more independent.  Then, before you know it, you will be helping me and others in all kinds of ways.


One last piece of advice for those of you going outside the Beltway to live in a strange new dorm somewhere:  You will be homesick.  You will miss the good and the bad.  Imagine missing the noise and the sirens and the chaos, but you will.  Do not try to come home for a visit until Thanksgiving at the earliest.  You will just get even more homesick when you return to school.  For those of you 5 or more hours away, I even suggest you find a friend to host you for Thanksgiving.

Don't forget the army of supporters at RISE who have your back.  Good luck in the beginning of this journey.

Much love,

Mr P”