Trinity graduate Perita Carpenter ’02, producer for the Washington Bureau of ABC News, gave keynote remarks to new students — first-year and transfer students — in the College of Arts and Sciences. She focused on the “Four C’s of College: Choices, Changes, Challenges and Commitment!” In addition to Carpenter’s remarks at the New Student Opening Convocation on August 23, President McGuire addressed the new students, inspiring them by sharing quotes from their application essays in which they wrote about their dreams and aspirations. The new students also signed the Trinity Honor Code, a tradition that dates back to 1913.
The Four C’s of College: Choices, Changes, Challenges and Commitment!
Perita Carpenter ’02
Keynote Remarks: New Student Opening Convocation, August 23, 2011
Good morning. Today I stand before you as a Trinity alumna. Yesterday… many years ago… I was a Trinity freshman just like many of you. In my first year at Trinity I experienced almost every emotion you could possibly imagine. However, I got through it all using what I like to call the four C’s of College: Choices, Changes, Challenges and Commitment!
The Four C’s of College – let’s begin with Choices.
Choices is one of the perks of going to college: you can choose to do whatever you want to do! Over the course of the next four years you will have a lot of choices to make; you will choose your classes, your major, your friends, the clubs and organizations to be a part of, to study or not, to be on time for class or not, to sleep all day, to pass or to fail… and as simple as these things may sound, these choices can define you and the future of your college career.
So, choose to study something you are passionate about and talk to your professors; research your field of interest, look at all of the possibilities, and don’t always choose to do what it easy. Choose to study, learn how to study, learn time management skills, and choose to apply them to your academic life. Remember, no one can make you do what you need to do; you have to WANT to do it.
Choose to meet new people and make new friends. Some of the people sitting around you today may very well become your lifelong friends, or the maid of honor at your wedding, or the godmother of your children.
Get involved on campus! College truly is what you make of it. Don’t waste the next four years sitting in your room on the phone or sleeping the best years of your life away, or going home every chance you get. EXPLORE the halls of Trinity, join a club, sport, or organization, take time and engage your peers in intellectual conversation, take a trip to the other universities nearby, and embrace the city of Washington, D.C. Even if you have lived here all of your life, there are uncharted territories waiting.
Making choices is a part of growing and being responsible. Choose to stand for something, choose to grow and change into the person you want to become. Gilda Radner, a famous American actress once said, “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
College is sometimes unpredictable; however, it’s dictated by the choices you make.
College is fun. College is also hard. College is life-changing. In the words of Trinity alumna Shaneka Green, Class of 2010, “never give up.” She says, “It sounds cliché but in college you experience so many trials and tribulations. Making the transition from high school to college, young adulthood to adulthood, is very difficult especially when you have so many responsibilities.”
You are now solely responsible for your future. This place we call college will open your mind and expose you to a whole new world of opportunities – if you allow it. Here at Trinity you will discover your strengths and improve them. Some of you already know what you want to study; some of you will change your major a few times, before you get it right. Trust me, it’s normal.
So, when I came to Trinity I was still in a relationship with my high school sweetheart. And some weekends I would go visit and sometimes during the week we would hang out, but the more involved I became in my college community, hanging out with new friends, studying, embracing life as a college student… the less time I had to spend with him or wanted to spend with him. He told me one day I was changing. And that all I cared about was school. He said he didn’t want to marry anyone who only cared about her education. He says all you do is study and hang out with your college friends, you don’t care about family, and then he goes on to say I can support us making $30,000.
Now, of course, my new college life caused a lot strain on the relationship. I was unhappy. I wanted to be in college, study, row crew, hang out with my friends, and grow up. And I was, I was growing up, transitioning from a teenager into a young adult. My self-concept was evolving and my outlook on life was developing and yes, I really was changing. So I had a choice to make: what was I going to do about this relationship? We had been together for six years. Do I just stick it out, leave school, or leave him? Well I did what was best for me. I put me first and with that said I chose my education. I chose college and it was the best decision that I made as a first-year student at Trinity.
I shared that story because sometimes people around you may not always embrace the choices and changes you are going to make. And that’s okay. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, do what you want and need to do. As you begin your life as a Trinity student, you will outgrow some of your old friends, you will outgrow some of those things you used to do and used to say. The person you are today if you make good choices for yourself, and embrace change, will not be the same person four years from now.
Sometimes the changes you will undergo will lead to uncertainty. It’s okay, change is inevitable. Remember that as you change you will grow into the person you want to become. And I know change is scary. It’s very scary, because when you start to change you start to see your own potential and others start to see it too. And who knows – you could very well run the world!
Embrace the changes and face the challenge.
Challenge yourself to study hard. Maybe you’re not the best a math, or not a very good writer, or the best test taker. Don’t run – face the challenge. It doesn’t matter what you’re not the best at, what matters is that you try and that you utilize the resources around you. When I came to Trinity as a freshman, I was a horrible note taker and test taker, and I didn’t know how to study. I decided I was going to take a religion course with Father Gallagher. Father Gallagher was an excellent professor, but I had heard he was tough. I was thinking, it’s religion, how hard can it be? Well, after I got my first exam grade I knew I needed to step it up if I was going to pass this class. What I learned in that class was that I could not miss a class, I learned how to take proper notes, and I learned how to study. I figured out what worked for me. I had to rewrite my notes and type them. I had to look over my notes every day until the day of the test. Unfortunately, I was not born with the gift of a photographic memory, so I knew that I was going to have to study a little harder. Well, my method proved to be successful. And yes, that meant that I had to decline a few offers to hang out and turn down a few dates. However, there is no better feeling than facing a challenge head on and winning! I won! I passed, and not only did I pass, I made the Dean’s List!
So… Challenge is good! When you choose to change your thinking and accept the challenge, you will win!
And finally, you’ve made the choice to be here as a Trinity Washington University student. You will change and grow, and challenge yourself like never before and now it’s time to make a commitment to yourself. So I’ve asked a few Trinity alumnae for some advice for you:
Shanita McKay, Class of 2003: “Beware of the freshmen 15… make a commitment to eat right and exercise.”
Tiana Hines Venable, Class of 2003: “Hold your head up high and never give up, no matter how hard it gets. Know and remember that Trinity’s professors and staff are here to support you all the way through, but you must stay committed and show a strong interest in your studies.”
Jamila Galloway, Class of 2003: “Try to get to know everyone in your dorm or class, don’t rule anyone out because they don’t look like your type of friend.”
Rosemarie Sterling, Class of 2002: “Enjoy the ups and downs, because there will be a day when you will wish you could be a Trinity student all over again. Call your parents and tell them you love them.”
Monique Pyatt, Class of 2002: “Trinity is a great university, a sisterhood like no other. Participate in all of the traditions; they really bring you together as a family. From Freshman Medal , to Sophomore Pin, to Junior Ring, to Cap and Gown Sunday!”
And today, as you commit to uphold the Trinity Honor Code, I’m asking you to:
Make a commitment to see these next four years to the end.
Make a commitment to take your education seriously. Professors don’t give grades, you earn them.
Make a commitment to study abroad – the world is so much bigger than home, explore and experience other countries and cultures.
Make a commitment to become a great person.
Make a commitment to show your school spirit and wear your school and class colors with pride.
Make a commitment to be an active participant in the Trinity community – this is your school, be a part of it!
And finally, make a commitment to represent an amazing legacy of Trinity Women with dignity, pride and respect.