Fear is a funny thing, it can either paralyze or inspire. For Bridgewater State University senior Keyana Adarkwah, it was clearly the latter. Nervous when she first arrived on campus a few years ago, she now encourages incoming students to use their fear as motivation.
“If it doesn’t scare you, it isn’t worth doing,” was just one of the insights Keyana shared at Tuesday’s convocation ceremony, where BSU welcomed incoming members of the class of 2023.
It’s hard to believe the confident leader, speaking before an audience of hundreds under the tent in University Park, almost let fear hold her back.
“My nerves got the best of me during my first semester, I hid in my room,” Keyana admitted. “I was scared, scared of saying the wrong thing, of not making friends, or walking into the wrong classroom…I was so terrified of doing the wrong thing, I did nothing instead.”
Today, she is a psychology major with a double minor in political science and civic education and community leadership. The high-achieving Bear is also heavily involved at BSU. Among other things she is president of her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, a peer advisor, student orientation coordinator, and the 2019 recipient of Bridgewater’s Unsung Hero Award.
Fellow student speaker, junior Eamonn Graeme, also admitted to struggling back when he was making the transition to college.
“I was scared,” the communications major said. “I guess the fear of swimming in unknown waters got the best of me that first semester.”
Eventually, he overcame those nerves and got involved on campus as a resident assistant, orientation and peer leader and tour guide. He also joined the Sigma Pi fraternity, where he serves as recruitment chairman.
“My advice to you is to jump in…trust me, this whole college experience is worth doing,” Eamon said.
Being involved and reaching out for help can help ease anxiety, said BSU President Frederick W. Clark Jr., during his convocation remarks.
“Needing help is part of life…I’ve never met a person who succeeded without asking for help. There are resources to help you here…asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Every single person here at Bridgewater State University is here to help you,” Clark said.
Just last year, sophomore Bailey Cormier was sitting under the tent in the same chairs as the incoming students, and the memory of those first few weeks on campus is still fresh.
“As prepared as I was, nothing could really prepare me for something as new as this,” she told the convocation audience. “But here I am a year later and what I will tell you is, BSU is a place of opportunity.”
Cormier herself has taken advantage of those opportunities, double majoring in communication studies and political science, with a minor in women’s studies. She joined clubs, is in a sorority, and became a resident assistant.
“There is no cookie-cutter way to exist and there is definitely no cookie-cutter way to be a Bear…look at the opportunities that scare you a bit but don’t get hung up on being perfect,” Bailey said. “Take a chance on yourself…because when you do take a chance on yourself, because you are brave, you’ll learn why everyday is a great day to be a Bear.”
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