From the first moment I stepped onto campus at the University of Richmond five years ago, I knew I was home.
I was 18 years old: wide-eyed, idealistic, and truly convinced that there was a college out there where I could do it all. I didn’t just want to swim; I wanted to contribute to a winning program, form lasting relationships, and continually improve. I didn’t just want to learn; I wanted to be intellectually challenged, to think critically about complex issues, and to be surrounded by faculty who were invested in their students. I didn’t just want a campus; I wanted to be somewhere safe and welcoming, where the people and the places felt like home. And I found all of that, and so much more, here at Richmond.
After four years as a Spider swimmer (and a few weeks as a Spider swammer), I am even more in love with this place today than I was at 18. I could try to explain to you what makes Richmond so special, but more often than not my pride about being a Spider is a feeling I can’t put into words. Richmond is a school where extraordinary things are commonplace and exceptional people are everywhere.
Richmond is where your swim coach spends his Friday night at your Phi Beta Kappa induction, somehow finding his way into your family pictures. It is where your physics and chemistry professors are in the front row at your Senior Meet, cheering louder than anyone. At Richmond you might cat-sit for your roommate’s research professor while they are doing fieldwork in Death Valley, and have cookouts with your Epidemiology class in your professor’s backyard. Richmond is where your Swim&Dive team wins four consecutive A-10 Championships, yet remains filled with the most humble and hard working people imaginable. It is where you cry happy tears for your teammates’ success, where you are just as invested in their dreams as they are in yours. At Richmond you may even get your first medical school acceptance while travelling for a swim meet – a poetic way to end one journey as you begin the next.
As I reflect on my experience as a student-athlete here, I’ve realized that somewhere between early mornings in the Robins Center, late nights in Gottwald, and the many Dhall trips in between, Richmond took the person I was and shaped me into the person I wanted to be. This August, I will begin the next chapter of my life at Duke University School of Medicine, and I couldn’t be any more excited for what comes next. But I’m sure I’ll be making the short drive back to Richmond more often than I should – the washed up alum that can’t seem to let go. And I’m ok with that, because in my heart I’ll always be Spider born and Spider bred. And if I’m really lucky, maybe many years from now I’ll have a daughter that steps onto campus and knows she’s home, too. That would be pretty extraordinary.
Class of 2016