I'm still having difficulty accepting the fact that just over two years ago, on April 1st, 2011, I visited RIT for the first time. It's been two years. Two. Years. When did this happen?
Two full years, but I still remember.
I don't hide the fact that RIT was an afterthought for me. I hadn't even heard of it until about a week before I applied. The Common Application is a glorious thing, and so was having my application fees waived (yay financial need?). And to be honest, if it weren't for the generous financial aid package RIT offered me, I would never have visited and I would't be here. Without it, I would never be able to stay here. And I remember that every day.
I was nothing less than in awe when, after the long 8.5 hour drive from Maine, my mother and I finally arrived to campus. I remember checking in, filing in to the field house and suddenly being overwhelmed with the reality that college was upon me.
I remember being impressed by the Computer Science program. I remember falling in love with the atmosphere on campus. And I certainly won't forget the wonderful students and staff who greeted and assisted me the whole time I was there. But what really stands out in my mind comes from my tour. There was one student, you see. He was your usual rowdy student, loud, obnoxious, and all he did was shout hello to my tour guide outside the library. But as he walked away he also adressed my tour group. "Pick RIT," he yelled, "it's literally the best decision you could ever make with your life." And you know what, I remember feeling like I agreed with him.
I didn't know why. And honestly, I didn't really care. I knew he was right and that's all that mattered in my mind. But I also remember leaving campus that day being upset. I remember feeling the weight of the immense cost associated with this opportunity. The words of the supportive financial aid advisor still lingeringing in the back of my mind.
"You can write a letter of appeal. The worst that will happen is your financial package won't change." Yes, I thought. A letter. Explain what numbers on paper can't explain; that I want to be Tiger but this damn cost thing is standing in my way. I drafted the letter in my head all the way back home to Maine. And I remember writing the letter...
I remember visiting the Wentworth Institute of Technology exactly one week after falling in love with RIT. And I won't forget how much effort it took to give it a fair chance. Yet the entire time I was there, only one thought prevailed: "it's not the same." And I remember visiting the University of Texas at Arlington a couple weeks after that. I'll admit the weather was nice, the campus was gorgeous and the program was impressive. But I remember the lack of a co-op program reminding me, "it's not RIT."
And I remember getting that fateful reply letter. I did it. I convinced RIT that it's the one place I wanted to be; the one place I needed to be. And they gave me a chance. A slight bump in financial aid. And I won't forget the feeling of paying that tuition deposit, my future decided.
I remember moving in early for pre-orientation. I remember showing up late to my program meeting because I missed a memo. I remember meeting a group of 19 wonderful people that same night. I remember the bike trip to Niagara Falls I embarked on with these people. What I didn't know is that two of them would be my future roommates. And I remember every thrilling moment thereafter.
I'm aware of the opportunities afforded to me by virtue of being an RIT Tiger. I remember where it began. It began with a visit. The Accepted Student Open House, April 1st, 2011. I have a lot worth remembering because of my fateful decision to step foot within the borders of Brick City.
I remember why I'm here. I remember that I deserve to be here. And I remember that this is worth it.
I remember, and I won't forget.