I am a proud alum of the University of Pittsburgh. My classmates know this, and for their benefit and sanity I will not make this blog post purely about my love for that University.
I will not go on about Pitt’s proud history in the arts (Gene Kelly, anyone?), the sciences (that Jonah Salk guy cured polio here) or athletics (Marino, Dorsett, Ditka, Fitzgerald, the list goes on).
I will not go on about a passionate, engaged, and vibrant student body.
I will not go on about the thriving and beautiful city of Pittsburgh. A city that fell on hard times, and reinvented itself as a hub of tech innovation and healthcare education.
No, I will not make this post about my love for Pittsburgh and its greatest University.
This post is about my transition from that beautiful school to a very different, and just as beautiful University.
Set to graduate in the Spring of 2016 with a BA in Communications and Sociology, the job opportunities available to me didn’t place me in the positions where I wanted to start my career. Twenty years old and looking for a new adventure, I stumbled upon the University of Virginia’s M.S. in Commerce program. I was drawn in by the allure of a master’s degree in a subject as unfamiliar and practical as business at a place where I barely knew anyone. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn and to push myself. I was nervous to leave my friends, family, and home, but excited by this new adventure. I applied in the first round of applications: November 1.
I had been to Charlottesville before when I was young, but only had a hazy memory of the place. As a naïve city boy from Pennsylvania, before I came here my imagination ran off about what my upcoming year in the deep south of Charlottesville, Virginia would hold. I imagined weekends filled with mornings sipping sweet tea on the porch and afternoons fishing down by the pond.
When I arrived at the M.S. in Commerce orientation, I was shocked by how comfortable I felt. I found the Class of ‘17 to be a group filled with kind and intelligent people looking to broaden their skill set and enhance their future prospects. From the very start this felt like the right decision.
That’s not to say there weren’t growing pains. When strangers greeted me in the grocery store, my initial response was to grip my cart tighter and walk by faster instead of smiling back. I still call ‘Grounds,” “campus.” For weeks I would have trouble falling asleep at night, longing for a Campus Deli Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, or Heinz Field on game day. However, I quickly grew to love life here, and realized that Charlottesville is more like Pennsylvania than I thought. This place is a little less sweet tea and fishing, and a lot of curious and intelligent people that have quickly made it feel like home.
I will always hail to Pitt. When Pitt and UVA meet at JPJ in a few weeks, I will be decked out in blue and gold. But, I have come to love UVA. I have come to love its traditions, its beauty, and most importantly the people that make it one of the best schools in the world. This program has broadened my thinking and multiplied my network. I’ve perfected my two-minute pitch, struggled through SPSS, and finally learned who and what OPEC is. I will always be a Panther, but the experiences, education, and opportunities provided to me by UVA have made me a little bit of a Wahoo too.