There is a phenomenon here called the CNU “bubble.” This bubble is our campus, our oasis in the Hampton Roads area. Within this bubble, we feel safe, secure and recognized. Christopher Newport does such an incredible job at providing us with an environment in which we can challenge, explore and create new experiences without threat of judgment.
Every year CNU presents you with a new challenge and in my senior year, I have found my challenge to be reality. I mean this quite literally – as in the real world of reality. I recently had the most incredible opportunity to attend the International Leadership Association conference in Barcelona to represent Christopher Newport in an undergraduate case-study competition. It was possibly one of the most amazing and influential things I have done in my life so far. Arriving in Barcelona I felt like I was on top of the world. Walking into the conference opening ceremony all I could think was, “Oh yeahhhh, let’s do this!”
My confidence was shot within the first 20 minutes and I was left feeling extremely naive. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel prepared and I began to think that the reason was because of the CNU bubble. For some reason my initial instinct was to blame CNU, not myself of course, but my school, for sending me out into the world unprepared to face reality. Then I realized how stupid that sounded. The bubble didn’t protect or shield me from things; it gave me a safe environment in which I had learned how to accept feeling uncomfortable and how to work through it. Now, frankly, I was speaking with people who held PhDs, so I give myself some credit for being able to keep up with them in conversation. But when I couldn’t, I kept asking questions with an eagerness to learn more. At the end of the conference, I was approached by several people who commented that they were impressed by the fact that I was comfortable, saying, “You know, I don’t know much about that, could you tell me more?” Simply my curiosity, humility, and ability to listen had impressed people.
So with this being said, you will come into your freshman year at Christopher Newport thinking you know everything. You don’t. I’m a senior and I still don’t know everything! I’m pretty sure our parents don’t even know everything (but don’t tell them I said that). But when that feeling of naivety starts to hit you and you feel uncomfortable, don’t run away from it – embrace it, and you will be amazed at how much you can learn. I can confidently say that there’s no place like CNU to provide an environment in which to learn this amazing lifelong skill.