I’m very much in a soul-searching-figure-out-my-life phase right now. In other words, I’m your average 20-something in the year 2013. I’ve seen a variety of posts on facebook about JMU freshman move in and all the glory that is 1787 August Orientation. These posts came from both students who are still at JMU, as well as, alumni like myself. It sparked that little place in my brain that keeps my sentimental feelings locked up, safely away and out of reach of my day-to-day thoughts. I’m now inundated with nostalgia of 1787 and the way it has changed my life.
This fantastic photo is from my first 1787, as a college freshman. It’s kind of blowing my mind that this was eight years ago. How did that happen?! Anyway, these are the lovely ladies in my Frog group, who lived in good old Hanson Hall, on our way to an orientation activity. The things I remember about 1787 as a freshman was doing some scavenger hunt that involved running all over campus and just getting really sweaty, going to Jimmy’s Mad Jam and experiencing some college a cappella at its finest, and getting into a car with strangers at the gas station at the top of Port Republic to go to a party (sorry mom!). I had no idea how hard it would be for me to adjust to college life or the wonderful people I would meet throughout the years, I just knew I was ready for this phase of my life and to move past high school. Oh, and I thought it’d be really easy to meet dudes. Obviously math wasn’t my strong suit and I had no idea what the JMU 60:40 ratio looked like in real life.
2007 my brother was going to be a freshman at JMU. I was pretty stoked to have him going to the same school as me. Us Lonetts struggle a little bit at the adjusting to college thing. Both of us were pretty slow go get involved in our early years. Being out of state students was a difficult thing that you don’t really think about until you’re surrounded by NOVA kids in your dorm who already have a built in circle of friends from high school to hang out with. I really enjoyed trying to help the little bro adapt more quickly than I did. I don’t know if I was successful or not, but at least we had some great late night Taco Bell trips and intramural sport teams.
1787 2k8, the year of the Maniacal Laughing Frogs, or MLFs for short. After helping the little bro adjust to JMU life the previous year, I really wanted to do the same for the incoming class of JMU first years. I applied and was accepted to be a First YeaR Orientation Guide (FROG!). My fellow MLFs are some of the raddest people I have ever met. This experience changed my entire perspective on JMU and made me love it more than I already did. I have so many memories of this week. Meeting my first years in McGraw-Long, eating dinner at Dhall with my students for the first time, getting proposed to via post it note at one of our activities that included a check yes or no box, being completely exhausted, but continuing on until the wee hours of the night just to get up bright and early for another day. One of my most vivid memories from this week was a conversation I had with John Nettles, my Orientation Peer Adviser. He’s the dude in the purple shirt up there. We were walking through Hillside field, he casually asked me how my first day was going and then I just started bawling. We sat down and chatted about my feelings. You guys, 1787 makes you have a lot of feels, it’s not my fault. Also, I think us MLFs are more sensitive than most, we’re criers and it is totally 100% ok! I felt like my first year girls hated me and they weren’t participating in activities. He worked his Nettles magic and gave me advice and a hug and I was fine. Turns out he was right. The girls started to be more involved and I ended up becoming good friends with a bunch of those girls! We stayed in touch throughout their 4 years at JMU and even now that we’re all alumni!
2k9, the year of the Tookas. After having the experience I did as a Frog, I wanted to become an OPA to support the Frogs during their 1787 experience. When I was a freshman, five years earlier, during my Summer Springboard, my mom leaned over to me after the OPAs were introduced and said, “I could see you being one of them one day.” I appropriately rolled my eyes and muttered, “I don’t even go here yet,” in A+ form of the typically angsty teenager.
Flash forward to 2009 and my mom was right. I didn’t know a group of people could have this much of an impact on your life. I honestly can’t even put into words the things I experienced while a part of this group. There’s not one specific sitting-in-a-field-while-I-cry-about-my-feelings moment to go back to, even though there definitely were some of those. We lived together, ate Dhall 3 times a day together, swam in President Rose’s pool together, had late night discussions in the estate together, we volunteered on the farm together, we went tubing on the river together, we played yee-haw together, we tried to figure out who we are as individuals and as a part of the team together. This experience kind of just embodies the person I was at this time. I think I’m starting to really understand what “I am because we are” means.
I’m not sure I fully comprehend how significant 1787 has been to my life and the person I am today. I’m still trying to decipher it as I continue on my soul-searching-figure-out-my-life phase. All I know is that I am grateful for each 1787 I was a part of , the people that I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by throughout each and every one of them, and the person I am today because of all of it. Dumela.