UNH is Where I Belong

Elizabeth Field

When I tell people that I hail from Orange County, California, I am always met with the same response: “WHY did you come to Connecticut?!”And sometimes, honestly, I have no idea.

What has kept me here has been the amazing experience in academia, friendships, and self-bettering opportunities that have been afforded to me by the University of New Haven. I came to UNH as a freshman with no friends, connections or anything tying me to the area, and I didn’t have high expectations for what my college experience would bring.

In high school, I had dreamed of attending a big-name, state university and was slightly underwhelmed when I arrived on campus to a small, private university in what I had at the time considered the middle of nowhere. I received all of the literature universities bombard prospective students with and read a little about the comprehensive experimental education program and the other benefits of UNH (such as guaranteed freshman dorm space and small class sizes), but none of this information really translated in my mind to how it will affect my personal experience.

Moving into my freshman dormitory that day I would never imagine that I would stand here today, half-way through my senior year dreading the thought of graduating. Not because I’m terrified of the responsibilities of true adulthood (well…maybe not completely…) but because I can’t imagine closing this chapter in my life.

My experience in college hasn’t been typical in the ways I had imagined it would be as a child: I’m not in a sorority, I don’t live on campus, I have two on-campus jobs, and as a History/Political Science double major my weekends are more often than not spent pouring over historical texts instead of out drinking with my friends. But what I have taken away from these last three and a half years are limitless accomplishments, unending friendships and the potential for greatness.

Earlier this semester, I wrote an article about the Pledge of Allegiance and why I felt uncomfortable reciting it during USGA meetings. The article garnered a lot of negative attention, and by that I mean atrocious and disgusting things were said about me and my character. And the worst part was that they were said by my peers. The people in my classes, that girl I see everyday in the cereal line—these were the same people that I could never imagine looking in the eyes again. At the time I wanted to pretend like these things didn’t matter, that words couldn’t hurt me, but I was lying to myself. Words hurt. Words hurt when they’re anonymous, but they hurt more when they’re from people that you respect.

When I finally realized I was not okay, admitting it to others and myself was such a relief. I received such an outpour of support from the UNH community. It wasn’t support of my ideas or beliefs, but support for my well-being, for my personhood, and support for my right as an American (and as an opinion writer for the Charger Bulletin) to be able to formulate an opinion.

Even though I would never consider myself grateful for this experience or wish it upon anyone, it has been the most impactful and positive experience of my college career.

Somehow everything clicked. Small class sizes meant I had professors who knew my name and, furthermore, who offered advice. Living on campus for two years meant I had many trusted and reliable friends who lent an ear. An emphasis on student wellness meant that I had counselors and administration available to me all hours of the day whenever I felt emotionally unwell.

Finally, after three years, this is when it all clicked. UNH is where I belong.