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The Daily Wildcat

57° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Embrace change while at UA

Long before I ever considered attending the UA, I held serious prejudices against the state it represents. Growing up in liberal Madison, Wis., I never knew much about the state of Arizona, but what I did know didn’t sit well.

Whenever I saw Arizona make the headlines, it was for its apparent backwardness. I knew of the tragic attack on Gabby Giffords and her supporters, of SB 1070, abusive border patrol efforts, and life-saving transplants denied to those who couldn’t afford them.

When the UA won me over with it’s world-class School of Anthropology, I still held reservations about moving to a part of the country that seemed so different from where I was used to. Before coming to the UA, I truly lived in a bubble. I rarely encountered people with political or social views much different from my own. Progressivism seemed natural; anything else seemed willful bigotry. For most liberals in Madison, the deep structural inequalities within the bubble are invisible, but it remains a liberal bubble nonetheless.

When the time came for me to start a new chapter of my life in Tucson, I feared leaving the bubble that had given me a sense of safety. I knew the UA was full of people who thought just like me, but I knew it was also full of people who didn’t. I worried that people would treat me badly for the color of my skin. I worried that my political views would alienate me from people who could have otherwise been my friends. I worried about my ability to stand up for what I believe in among people who didn’t believe in the same things.

After three years at the UA I can say that my fears were unfounded. I don’t mean none of them came true—they did—but I didn’t realize that these were challenges to embrace. Universities are centers of learning, critical thought and personal development, the UA being no exception. These important functions operate in the classroom, and also through the daily experience of being surrounded by people different from yourself. In a place where people gather to learn, to improve, to be challenged, to determine their life trajectory, what better opportunity is there to create social change?

The UA is a terrific place to develop academically and professionally, and is also a great place to make a difference. This opportunity exists not only because of the diversity of people and views at the university, but also because of the school’s strong network of student activists.

The UA is home to vibrant cultural centers, an active student government, an engaged Residence Life and a vast array of clubs and other organizations where you can get involved. Whether you want to champion LGBTQ rights, environmentalism or religious freedom, you can find the opportunity to thoughtfully engage the campus community and grow with it.

Make the most of your time at the UA. Study hard, get to know your professors, cheer for the basketball team, go out and have fun. This is the time and the place. If you want to make a difference in the world, don’t wait until your college years are behind you. Start now. You may never have a better opportunity.

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