Warnell is like a tree. Rooted in UGA’s South Campus, we have a rich history that makes me proud of where Warnell has stemmed. The trunk is comprised of a great support system of faculty and staff that make it easy for students to reach our full potential. The branches, a vast network of professionals and alumni, reach across the United States. Finally, the fruit is the students, comfortably nested within four buildings and filling with knowledge before being dropped and dispersed far and wide.
The link between us and trees is definitely not a new thing. After all, we were originally a school just for forestry. In the student lounge resides one of my favorite things in all of Warnell (besides the wood paneling) – the student donor tree. Every time a class graduates, leaves are added to the tree with the name of a student who donated a portion of their senior signature back to the school that provided them with so much more than an education. Soon, my name will be written on a leaf and added to the wall like so many students before me. This tree symbolizes that even though we are gone, we never truly leave. Warnell has so many opportunities to stay involved even after graduation that even though students are gone, they are not forgotten.
When I look back at my college career, it is not defined by the large core classes, the struggle of organic chemistry, or the long walks from Creswell to anywhere on campus. It is defined by changing my major and instantly feeling like family, “studying” at Warnell late at night with classmates who feel more like best friends, and exhausting class field trips that never go as planned. It is defined by conclave and meetings at 6am and playing with
outreach animals. It is defined by flannels, waders, and bug spray. It is going to Canada to attend The Wildlife Society national conference and competing in the quiz bowl event. It is unexpectedly winning first place at Conclave for a watercolor painting I created in five minutes in the passenger seat of the van on the way there. It is tracking powdered mice through blackberry thickets and slapping spiders off of each other’s backs on a maymester. It is being freezing cold on the trip to Sapelo and not catching anything. It is FINALLY being able to hold a bat (after my rabies vaccination, of course!). It is my summer internship at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine caring for wildlife. It is joking about “running Warnell” because I want to be super involved, and hoping that it is actually true.
Like any senior with graduation looming over their head, I originally was in denial. I was scared of leaving and dropping off into the real world with no comfy student lounge filled with friends. But over the past few weeks, I have realized how much Warnell prepares their students, and how important it is to share Warnell with everyone who deserves to be here. Eventually, like any successful acorn, I need leave- plant my roots and flourish elsewhere. However, there is comfort in knowing Warnell is never far away, and I can always come back for grad school!