There’s more than one way home
Ain’t no right way, ain’t no wrong
And whatever road you might be on
You find your own way ’cause there’s more than one way home
– Keb’ Mo’
Over the last couple of weeks as we prepared for the “Believe in the G” campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a vast array of students on campus. I’ve talked to veterans; UNCG Guarantee students; honors students; students from Poland, Germany, Egypt, Spain, and the Netherlands; students who are the first in their family to attend college; students from urban areas and small, rural towns; and students who are UNC Greensboro legacies.
Keb’ Mo’ is one of my favorite contemporary blues artists. He’s from Compton, California, and I used to see him play at “juke joints” around LA before he became a Grammy-winning artist. One of my favorite songs from his catalogue is “There’s More Than One Way Home.” While the song has some tasty guitar licks, I remain struck by the core message. People have to find their own path in life. There is no “right way” or “wrong way.”
This is especially relevant for our campus. The word I use to describe the composition of our student body is “array.” Our students, who come from a wide range of backgrounds and come with a wide range of interests, have taken different paths to get here. And you can bet, when they leave, they will go in just as many different directions. Keep in mind that 33,000 of our alumni live within 25 miles, and that 75 percent live in North Carolina. In other words, this university has a direct, everyday impact on the quality of life in our own communities.
The point of pride for UNCG is that we help our students find and move along their path, no matter their starting point. We are tenaciously committed to ensuring that our students graduate with the skills that will allow them to compete in a 21st century labor market and to thrive as citizens of modern society. That is our promise. We owe it to our students and to ourselves to make sure we live up to our promise and prepare our graduates for the world around them. Many students I spoke to shared the experience of having a faculty member go above and beyond to help them succeed in class. Another common refrain was access to a support system that provided help (and sometimes a “kick in the pants” when they needed it!) and useful information so that students could successfully navigate their UNCG experience.
Back to the song for a minute. Keb’ Mo’, I believe, uses home as a metaphor for one’s essential purpose in life. The journey may take twists and turns but the goal is to find your own way home.
To our students, realize that life is not linear. It may not be like your sibling’s or best friend’s path and might not be the one your parents thought you would take (I speak from experience, I have two kids – one in college and one who just graduated!). It may not even be the path you thought you were taking. Don’t worry. You will find your home. And we – the faculty, staff, and alumni – are here to help you, support you, and encourage you.
Find your own way. “’Cause there’s more than one way home.”
Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.