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Academics

The Ultimate Assignment: My senior letter

by Micah Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief

I and the dozens of other seniors who are graduating in December were recently tasked with probably the most difficult assignment of our college career: in a letter addressed to faculty and staff, reflect on your time at Warren Wilson College.

Needless to say, it is difficult to consolidate three to four years of experiences down to a letter—even if it is 15 pages long. But, I tried my best. Here is an abridged version of my Senior Letter. Conveniently, all of the critiques of the college are left out of this selection:

A few times during my last semester of college, I have had to remind myself of why I made certain decisions.

Why did I decide to attend a small, somewhat obscure liberal arts college far from home?

Why did I major in history? 

Why have I spent all of my time here on one work crew, when I could have learned other skills on other crews?

These questions are particularly pertinent now because in two months’ time, I will graduate and be pushed out into the real world. Even to someone like me, who is confident in her abilities and intelligence, this is somewhat nerve-racking. I think I half expected things to just fall into place after I graduated.

And perhaps if I had chosen another school, or another major, things would have just fallen into place. Maybe I would be graduating with a 9-5 desk job secured, and a game plan for my future set into place.

But, as my educational experience at Wilson supports, I know that decisions should be made thoughtfully, intentionally, and should be led by your heart. I chose to attend Warren Wilson College because I thought it would help me grow and learn, not as a student or as a worker, but as a person.

When I think about Warren Wilson, I think first and foremost about the academics because, well, we’re a college. Many classes and teachers have been instrumental in my learning experience here:

Melissa Blair’s American history courses, and their focus on bringing to light marginalized groups.

Creative writing classes, particularly Nonfiction and Intro, with Rachel Howard and Sebastian Matthews, respectively. Though these teachers are no longer at Wilson, I think the Creative Writing Department here is very successful and engaging. I will always regret not having the opportunity to take a class with Catherine Reid.

Feminist Thought with Laura Vance revolutionized my thinking and introduced me to eye-opening feminist theories and ideas like intersectionality and essentialism. This is one class that has affected my life and my worldview in irreversible ways.

Phil Otterness’s approach to the field of history, which I learned a little late, in my junior year in Western Civilization I.

Rima Vesley-Flad’s Race, Morality and the Politics of Crime class that I am currently enrolled in has drastically shifted my perception of the prison system in the United States and has gotten me to engage with important, dense texts. This is another class that I will take with me long after graduation.

Chris Kypriotis who introduced me to a new, more appealing, mathematical side of political science in the special topics Voting, Campaigns and Elections course.

Angela Phillips’ outstanding humor and her encouraging me to continue speaking and improving my French.

Julie Caro’s wealth of knowledge in art history, her Harlem Renaissance class, and her support while I write my thesis.

Field Natural History with Amy Boyd, remarkably the only science class I have taken at Wilson, got me outdoors, unlike all of my other classes. My bug collection from that class was one of the coolest assignments I’ve done at Wilson.

My study abroad experience in France this past summer, and Naomi Otterness’s support and facilitation to make it happen. 

For all of these things listed above, I will be eternally grateful to this school. 

When I decided to come here, when I chose to become a history major, when I stayed on the Echo crew, I was following my passions. Warren Wilson is not a very prominent school, and a history degree—or newspaper experience for that matter—will not lead me to the money tree. But these decisions were fueled not by money or job security. These decisions were fueled by my desire to grow, holistically.

There are pages and pages of more things that I could say, but I am comforted by the fact that my time at Warren Wilson will never entirely be over, and for that reason, this senior letter will never truly have an end. I will return, I will be in touch, and I will continue to support. Thank you all for making the last three and a half years of my life memorable, fulfilling, engaging and inspiring. I love this place!

Sincerely,

Micah Wilkins

p.s. Keep an eye out on the Echo for me.

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