Posted by Andrew Wei

I never thought I’d go to UTD.

Unlike some others, choosing McDermott wasn’t an easy decision for me.1 It feels silly to admit now, but sometime in high school, I’d decided against staying in Dallas. I had this idea that college meant going away, leaving home, building a new and independent life somewhere else. My parents live twenty minutes from campus, and I just couldn’t see myself going to That College Down the Street.

I changed my mind, obviously. Among (many) other things, the McDermott Program promised family, a home away from home. As ridiculous as that sounds coming from someone whose home and family are a short drive away, there really is something special about this place. All McDermotts live on campus—it’s a requirement of the program. For me, that means most of my friends live in the same apartment complex, no more than a few minutes’ walk. We see each other all the time, whether we’re on the way to class or visiting each other or hanging out in the office. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference it’s made.

Now I’m halfway through college. It’s passed in the blink of an eye.

This was us (’13s) two years ago in Santa Fe!

The new class of McDermotts returns from Santa Fe this week. When we meet them in a few days, they’ll be looking up to us as upperclassmen. It’s awfully strange, being on the other side for the first time. As a freshman, I always felt that there was something unattainable about the junior and senior McDermotts—the sense of accomplishment, the ease with which they led clubs and won awards and landed jobs at big companies.

Now I’m looking back at myself and wondering whether I measure up to the same standards. Wondering whether, two years ago, I could’ve anticipated all the things I’ve done here. All the student orgs I’ve been involved with. The things I’ve learned inside and outside of classes. The amazing experiences I’ve had over the summers.

I’ve had so much fun. I’ve made so many friends. We’ve road-tripped across the country, gone skydiving, and gotten SCUBA certified. We’ve stayed up late studying (occasionally), playing video games (sometimes), arguing about food and movies (all the time), and pelting each other with snowballs (just once or twice). We’ve gone camping. We’ve had sing-alongs, cookouts, birthday parties and surprise cakings, movie nights, board game nights, eat-out nights, let’s-do-something-because-it’s-Friday-and-we’re-bored nights.

There’s still a lot I haven’t gotten to do yet. My semester abroad. Senior design. Applying to grad school, and whatever comes next. In a week, the fall semester will start—I’ll be a junior, and it’ll be time to start thinking about all of these things. It’s a little bit scary, to be honest. Actually it’s really scary. But so was the idea of coming to college, not all that long ago.

I never thought I’d come to UTD, but I’m here, and I’m happy, and I’m home. Here’s to another two years—if not better than these past two, then at least just as good. We’ll see.

[1]: Preposterous!

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