A little over ten years ago, I strolled through the Central Grounds to Now Hall 101 for my first class at university. Coming from a small rural community in the Shenandoah Valley, U.Va. My stomach sank as I stepped into an introductory lecture on comparative politics by political science professor Leonard Schoppa. Looking around, I saw a sea of ​​students who seemed to be acting together. In high school, I worked hard to qualify for college, but that day I felt a part of myself inadequate. I wanted to turn around and walk out the door.

I wish I could say my first trimester was a rapid transition from numbness to self-confidence, but it wasn’t. It was only a few years later that I realized that moving from high school to college was the most dramatic change in my life. I offer current students the advice I would have given myself—embrace this adjustment period and don’t miss the opportunity at hand.

Over time, I adjusted to the university and made meaningful and lifelong friendships, not only with individuals but also with members of the community. challenged me to become a scholar I never knew I could be. model College not only exposed me to a wide range of fields and methodologies, but forced me to connect the dots between these seemingly disparate fields. I remember noticing that the . In the age of specialization, it is becoming more and more important to broaden our horizons and explore areas that at first glance may seem unrelated to our expertise. This makes our scholarship more holistic and compelling.like i have before claimed, studying the wide range of topics that make up the humanities is a reminder of what it means to be human in the first place. The web of ideas that formed in my head slowly began to make sense and influenced the direction of my life.

My curiosity about the humanities led me to leave my architecture major and enter the fields of religious studies and psychology. But still my road was winding. I originally planned to go to graduate school to become a clinical counselor, but that plan was ruined when I studied Classical Hebrew with Associate Professor Gregory Göring in my final year of college. From that moment on, I could not escape my passion to study the Hebrew Scriptures in their original linguistic and cultural setting. I do not pretend to be ignorant of how one went from an aspiring architect to an aspiring philologist to a biblical scholar, but I am grateful for the opportunity to learn extensively at the university that made this journey possible. We appreciate. You may find similar detours on your own journey, but this shouldn’t scare you. If you don’t adapt, you might miss out on what you’re really passionate about.

After graduating from undergraduate school, I aimed for M.Div. He received his master’s degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and then from the University of Chicago, studying the Hebrew Scriptures in the context of the ancient Near East at both institutions. After briefly studying Northwest Semitic Philology at Johns Hopkins University, I accepted his offer to complete my Ph.D. Duke University Hebrew Bible. Every time I think about my life journey so far, a wry smile appears on my face. My life could have gone a million other ways, but this is where the road led me. This is not where I traveled to, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. After graduating from college, life continues to take unexpected turns. If there’s one thing you learn in college, it’s that adapting to new situations is an important life skill that can bring you great results. result.

Freshmen are now embarking on their academic journeys in college and come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. My advice to them is to embrace this season of life. If you want to turn around and walk out the auditorium door, sit shoulder to shoulder with your mates. Please be patient. A new season in life rarely happens overnight. Please take a deep breath. This is just the beginning of your journey. No algorithm can predict where life’s winding road will take you. Also, you don’t need to know all the answers today. Dream big and work hard, but don’t hold your vision too tightly to the future.

Matthew Arakaky is a class of 2015 and a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Religious Program at Duke University. He has previously studied at the University of Virginia, Princeton Theological Seminary, the University of Chicago, and Johns Hopkins University.

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