My very first experience at Emory took place on the curb outside Harris Hall at four in the morning, surrounded by my (too many) bags and escorted by a police officer.
Needless to say, I didn't love the place right off the bat. I hadn't visited — my decision in coming here was driven by the fact that I had no greater desire than to get as far from Utah as possible — and my parents weren't able to come down with me, yet for some inexplicable reason I decided it was a great idea to take an overnight flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta, arriving in the wee hours of the morning, only to find that Harris Hall was locked.
So as I tried to breathe through the wall of humidity while I settled down on the curb to wait the four hours for the dorms to open, a policeman driving past stopped to wait with me, informing me that hey, it's probably not the best idea for a college freshman standing at a whomping five feet tall to sit on the street at night.
Whoa, Atlanta's not the same as Salt Lake City. A few weeks later, I was working on applications to transfer to other schools.
When it came down to clicking "Submit," I hesitated. Most people don't know this, but what kept me at Emory was the Wheel. It was the first newspaper experience I had ever had, and just recently the then-intimidating News Editor had asked me and another writer — who later became the Editor in Chief — to be Assistant News Editors. Listen, to a college freshman, that was a huge deal. I stayed put.
I will forever credit the Wheel for keeping me here, but there's more to my Emory story. I came to an academic college because my parents refused to allow me to study dance after high school (funny, because I will be dancing after college) and I loved it because of the people I have met — yes, including my freshman year roommate who was so messy you couldn't see the mini fridge, let alone the floor — and because of the experiences and opportunities I have received that have ultimately allowed me to follow even my wildest dreams.
This summer, I will be pursuing my dream of becoming a fashion journalist as an intern at Lucky Magazine and in the fall, I will be pursuing my longtime passion of dance with Staibdance. Four years ago, I had lamented that there was nothing at Emory or in Atlanta that could provide me with opportunities lest I go to the business school. Today, I don't believe for a second that I'd be where I am without the resources and education I have received at Emory as an English major and a Dance and Movement Studies minor (and as an overachiever, apparently an unofficial Philosophy minor?). Most importantly, though, what Emory has done for me is give me the most amazing friends (shoutout to the Sassy Six!), supportive roommates who have come to every dance show of mine, mentors who have put everything aside to help me succeed and professors who are passionate about their subjects and who genuinely care about what I'm getting out of the class.
Unless the Wheel will offer me an unpaid internship next fall so that I can continue to write as much as I can, this will be the last thing I write for this paper. So despite the .005 cents an hour for the 45 hours a week I spent (slaved?) on the fifth floor of the DUC and the numerous 3 a.m. publication times that I never stopped complaining about, thank you for giving me a new page to start my own story on.
Alice Chen graduated from the College in May 2012. She was the Executive Editor of the Emory Wheel.