Greetings class of 2019! Let me be the first to welcome you to campus. Okay, okay, maybe I’m not the first, but outside of Scuba Steve, I’m definitely the most enthusiastic! WELCOME! See. It’s in all caps with an exclamation point.

As I prepared for this article, it dawned on me that it was 24 years ago that I first stepped foot on the skyline campus. Much has happened since 1991, and it is with that perspective I offer some thoughts on how to get the most from your Trinity experience.

My first year on campus, Metallica’s Black album, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Guns ‘n Roses Use Your Illusion, Nirvana’s Nevermind, REM’s Out of Time, and A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory all came out. The year also bore witness to amazing albums by Public Enemy, Monster Magnet, The Melvins, Natalie Cole, and TuPac. To get a deep look into the soul of 1991 America, check out this list of movies. Holy cow! Instant classics.

Sorry, I got off topic. I am known to do that on occasion. This isn’t an article about how great it was to be a Trinity student in 1991. No, this is an article about how great it is to be a Trinity student in 2015!

This is truly an amazing time to be at Trinity. We have a new President, the exciting Pathways curriculum, and the launch of three new centers. The first is the Center for Student Success, which will help students thrive academically and socially. Secondly, the Center for International Citizenship seeks to unite academic programs, study abroad, cultural events, and support for international students, in order to cultivate global awareness, understanding, and action. Finally, there is the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success (CELCS), a portal between our residential campus and the diverse, rich world that exists just off campus. The CELCS’ mission is to empower students to connect their Trinity experience with the broader world, and to better prepare you for life after graduation. It is with that aim, that I encourage you to get engaged with your community.

San Antonio has one of the biggest Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches in the country, and Trinity students consistently have a big presence in the event. Find a friend to go with, and take part in something that’s bigger than any of us. Make time to volunteer. Part of personal growth is recognizing that the entire world doesn’t revolve around you. This is, of course, one of the main objectives of a college education.

The city of San Antonio is most certainly a #CityOnTheRise, evidenced by Geekdom, Tech Bloc, and SA Works. Don’t take my word for it, go discover for yourself: ride a bike down the Mission River Reach, explore King William, and utilize the student discounts at the San Antonio Museum of Art and the McNay. Go see a professional sports team play. Everyone knows about the Spurs, but the AHL’s Rampage, NASL’s Scorpions, WNBA’s Stars, and Texas League’s Missions are all here too. And if you can be here during Winter Break, you’d be CRAZY to miss the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Don’t forget to take advantage of all the opportunities campus has to offer. If you need a place to get away from it all, a place to let off steam or a place to regroup before or after a tough assignment stop, then stop by the Bell Center. In addition to the exercise equipment, open gym space and weight room, the Bell Center is also the home to the intramural (IM) office. Your student fees pay for the operation of the IM program, so get your money’s worth and sign up to play a sport. Be sure to check out the outdoor recreation (O-REC) program too. You can sign up for one of the student-led trips, or you can check out equipment and blaze your own trail.

Of course there are other decisions you make on a daily basis, many of which have a significant impact on your Trinity experience. Take full advantage of your classes. As an alumnus of Trinity’s communication and religion departments, I can tell you that the critical thinking and communication skills you develop at Trinity will serve you well. But like everything else, the choice is yours. You’ll get out of your classes what you put into them. Another tip I wish I’d known back in August 1991: go to office hours. Get to know your professors. We are here because we WANT to interact with students. Help us help you.

Stop by the CELCS and learn about community service opportunities and internships, and while you’re there make sure you set up a time to meet with a Career Services staff member. The amazing staff has much to offer, and it is never too early to start thinking about your future. Take that risk and pursue your passion. You never know where it might lead.

College life is filled with choices YOU get to make. And if your choices lead you to a Metallica concert where you happen to bump into a certain faculty columnist, let’s just agree now to pretend it never happened. But seriously, while at Trinity you’ll make some good decisions and some bad decisions; either way, those choices should help you grow to become a more complete person. Dip your toes in the water, and uncover the greatness of a life well-lived!

Jacob Tingle is the new director of Experiential Learning, co-director of Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success and chair of the sports managment minor program.