Alumna's visit with TROY's Chancellor and First Lady reveals a 'home away from home' mentality.
Since graduating from Troy, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the campus numerous times, but it wasn’t until this past summer that I really started to understand just how at home I was there.
In May, I was able to interview a few key people at Troy for the trade magazine at which I work, and to say the least, it was an eye-opening experience for me. From a very young age, I’ve had a deep appreciation for all things Troy, but it wasn’t until I was able to sit down with Chancellor Hawkins, the First Lady, Mark Salmon and Matthew Shelley from the Physical Plant that I really began to see the blood, sweat and tears that go into running this institution.
Not only did I get to see the newest statue additions in the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park, but I was also able to hear the design story behind the quads, the plans for upcoming buildings and hear a few ideas Chancellor Hawkins has for the university in the coming years.
But it wasn’t until I started conducting interviews that something in my head clicked. I was asked to think back on my first time visiting the college and say what the first thing that came to mind was when I stepped on campus.
For me, it was an instant feeling of being home. At that time, I’d visited the campus on many occasions for football games and theatre productions, but it wasn’t until I seriously began looking into colleges that I realized how comfortable Troy’s campus made me. It wasn’t too big. It wasn’t too small. It was simultaneously far enough away and close enough to home. It was the perfect home away from home for me.
As I arrived to conduct my interview with the chancellor and his wife, that idea of feeling at home wouldn’t leave my head, and my feelings were affirmed when the chancellor greeted me with a hug and said, “Welcome home, Beth.”
Chancellor Hawkins went on to discuss how it’s his goal to make sure students always feel at home when they come to Troy, especially the international students. He told me that he never wants a student to feel as if he/she doesn’t belong on Troy’s campus because Troy’s campus is meant for everyone.
Have you been to the main quad lately? If so, you’ve probably noticed the swings that are set up around the area. Most of you might just notice them and then walk on, but did you know that Chancellor Hawkins wanted those swings put in specifically because he knew they would remind people of home?
“Most of us can remember sitting on a swing just like those on the porch of a loved one,” he told me. “It brings back that sense of family and home.”
I don’t know about many other universities around, but that struck me as an idea that not a lot of people in authority would have when designing landscapes. It’s so simple, but so effective. For our chancellor, inclusion and diversity are key, which is obvious when looking at Troy’s expansive international presence.
Troy is known as one of the most internationally diverse college campuses in Alabama, and Chancellor Hawkins says the university is home to students from over 76 different countries. That blows my mind. Every single day, the students at Troy have the opportunity to meet and form relationships with students from all across the globe.
As someone who spent five amazing years at Troy, I can say with certainty that there aren’t many other places like it. To this day, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride, accomplishment and, you guessed it, home when I set foot on that campus. Since my interviews, I find myself trying harder and harder to make it back to the area to take in more of Troy.
Granted, not everyone may feel as attached to Troy as I do after leaving, but I’d venture to say that at one time during your college career, you felt at home there, too. My advice is to take advantage of every second you have there. Enjoy it and live it to the fullest, and always remember that when you’re at Troy University, you’re at home.