It’s a strange thing to be back at Trinity University. I graduated in 2006 majoring in English and Religion. Returning as a professor of religion almost a decade later makes me feel nostalgic.

It also makes me feel old.

I stayed in touch with my friends working as faculty and staff members while I was away, but it’s still striking to see how much has changed on campus since I was a student here. It’s even more remarkable, however, to see how much things have stayed the same.

One of the things that hasn’t changed is the Trinity tradition of putting students first. New faculty — including myself — just completed an orientation that focused primarily on helping new professors get ready to teach in the classroom. We attended intensive workshops that were led by several of the best teaching professors on campus, and they shared their guidance on how to succeed in the classroom. The fact that teaching students was made the university’s top priority for new faculty reminded me how unique Trinity is in its commitment to putting student education before all else.

Another thing I could always rely on as a student was hearing other students complain about climbing up Cardiac Hill in order to get to upper campus for classes. I thought it was an absurd complaint then, it’s really not that far. Having spent the last nine years living in the Northeast without a car, I find it even more absurd. I’m a bit older and find new ways to injure myself doing routine activities, but I can still manage walking across Trinity’s campus just fine. I won’t take any complaints seriously from someone born after 1990.

As a student here at Trinity, I loved being in the heart of San Antonio and having access to its rich multiculturalism. I learned so much from engaging with unfamiliar communities, and this helped open my mind and shape the person I am today. It was a powerful experience that challenged me to grow as a person, and I hope you all will do the same.

Speaking of challenging experiences, can I tell you one more thing that hasn’t changed? Dave Tuttle’s embarrassing sense of humor. I had to listen to him the other day and had immediate flashbacks to when I was a student. The struggle is real, people.
Let me close with an observation that has meant the most to me in my return to Trinity. As I walk around campus, I have been astounded by how many smiling faces I recognize. There have been dozens of people on faculty and staff who have continued in their roles over the past decade. Their commitment to serving Trinity University, and especially its students, is truly remarkable.

Their continued service to Trinity illustrates how special our university is, and it is this continuity that has helped Trinity to remain successful through growth and change.

More than anything else, seeing these colleagues and friends makes me deeply grateful to be a part of this community. I grew and matured immensely as a student here through their instruction, service and mentorship, and I encourage each of you to do the same. After all, it’s the people of Trinity University that make it such an incredible institution.