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River Hawk pride is vested in modesty and experience

UMass Lowell students will celebrate the university’s 125th year in operation with a series of special 2019 Homecoming events across campus. (Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell)

Conor Dawson
Connector Editor

I never wanted to be a River Hawk. Coming out of high school, I had been listening for four years about how getting into the right college can make or break your academic career. I applied to UMass Lowell as a safety school, but I never planned to go here. I had lofty aspirations; applying to some of the top schools in the country, I ended up deciding to go to Hofstra University in New York after months of deliberation. 

I went to Hofstra for a year and I underperformed. I struggled with many of my classes, and at the end of the year, I decided that I was going to transfer closer to home and attend UMass Lowell. I would be lying if I said I did not resent the school at the beginning; to me every step I took on campus was a reminder that I had done poorly. 

Over the first month or two I allowed myself to open up and got involved in multiple on-campus organizations. I joined the International Relations Club, and I became the campus life editor for the Connector newspaperBoth of these positions allowed me to interact with people who have come to be some of my closest friends. I have come to realize over the last year that going to UMass Lowell is not synonymous with mediocrity, but with a hard work ethic and a positive attitude towards others. 

Never before have I gone to a school where the professors take such an interest in student success. My professors have, for the entirety of my time here, cared about my success in both academics and my life outside of the classroom.  

The opportunities UMass Lowell has afforded me are above and beyond what I ever could have expected. Through this university, I have been able to speak to John Kerry and have gone to debate in Scotland. Both of these experiences were absolutely life changing. Had I not ended up at UMass Lowell, I would not be studying political science or journalism if I had not transferred here, and I have found both programs to be shining examples of liberal arts programs at a STEM school. 

UMass Lowell has a history as rich as many schools with larger names, and since coming here, I have found that there is a bunch of fascinating pieces of UMass Lowell history, such as the fact that President Kennedy was given an honorary degree from here in 1956. 

The students here are more down to earth and kind than I have experienced elsewhere. I have had few reasons to ever dislike a student, and I have generally found that if I have ever needed help with an assignment or help with understanding a concept, others in my classes who I may not even have known beforehand are eager to help me where they can. 

Now I do not think UMass Lowell is perfect, but I have found my people here. UMass Lowell may not have been my first second or even third choice, but here I have found a school that works for me. Transferring to UMass Lowell was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I am proud to call myself a River Hawk.  

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