Ahh, yes. The first full week of classes has arrived. Hopefully, the frantic parking situations will have calmed, everyone has found their classes successfully and the very kind individuals who park their extended cab pick-up trucks with hitches that protrude 2 feet behind them will have realized that it is not wise to park in the chaotic lot nestled on the corner of Volunteer and Lake Loudon.
No, but really, please reconsider parking there. My front bumper thanks you.
With that out of the way, allow me to introduce myself. I'm a senior majoring in English Literature. I love literature, but nowhere near as much as I love the pursuit of knowledge. As a first-generation college student, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I applied for college. I didn't know what kind of campus I wanted, what size of school, or how much I wanted to pay for tuition. So I just filled out a couple of applications for universities and ended up here.
Before arriving in campus during the blistering August of 2009, I had no expectations. I also wasn't even a huge UT fan. I knew Rocky Top, had heard of Bruce Pearl and Pat Summitt. That was basically the extent of it. I don't come from a die-hard family who has orange running through their veins. I do, however, come from a very hard-working family, who were rarely presented with the opportunities to further their learning in the ways that I have.
Now, with my terrifying final year on campus finally here, I face the harsh reality of only having one year left before I move onto my next opportunity. This place, with all of its concrete, construction, coaching changes, and terrible parking, is a place that I will forever hold close to my heart. I often joke that I'll be that alumnus who returns for as many home games as possible, owns a bright orange car with the Power T painted on the roof, and has an orange cat named Rocky.
In my column, I promise to bring up topics that are as relevant to your life as a member of UT as I possibly can. My opinions about school issues, politics, current events, sports, and many other topics will appear in this column over the course of this school year. I may offend people at times, as is what happens with conflict of opinion, but I hope you all take the time to read my perspective. It is my belief that I am no better than anyone else. I believe the same is true for the rest of humanity. Within each of us runs the same DNA pattern that causes us to live and act as humans. Some have been fortunate enough to end up in better situations, some in worse. However, that does not mean that your opinion and your livelihood matter more or less.
I hope that you can each find within my column something interesting or debatable. Conversation is one of the most important aspects of human nature. Debate does not have to be harsh or unruly. It should be a learning experience for both parties. Allow yourself to grow as a person and experience new things. Learn from one another. The chances you have here at UT to engage yourself more fully in activities and meet people from different areas and of different cultures is exponentially larger than any other time in your life.
Remember, these years are what you choose to make of them.
— Kayla Graham is a senior in English Literature. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.