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Posted by on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Self-Discovery.

Jackson Vaught, ’16,
College of Arts and Science

Jackson VaughtThe first year of college can be difficult for anyone—moving away from home, finding new friends, adjusting to class…the list can get quite lengthy in terms of what can complicate the transition.

During the spring semester of my first year at Vanderbilt, I experienced something unexpected that made the transition take on a new level of difficulty. The loss of my grandmother was perhaps the hardest thing I have ever undergone. Not being able to spend every Sunday afternoon on her back porch while away at school had been hard enough, but the thought of never being able to make any more memories with her was almost unbearable. As a result of her death I had to take off a week from school to go home and be with my family, and the thought of getting behind in class added a new layer of stress on top of the already devastating grief. However, I soon experienced something else that was very unexpected: the overwhelming support of the Vanderbilt community.

Losing a loved one while separated from your family is unique in that the immediate grief is not the hardest; it’s weeks later, when the numbness of the pain has worn off and the reality of loss has begun to settle in, that support is needed the most. Not only were my professors incredibly understanding of my situation, but the amount of support I received from my hallmates, friends, and even my faculty head of house was nothing short of incredible. Although I still miss my grandmother every day, experiencing the loss showed me that our community creed is not just a piece of paper that we sign our first day on The Commons. Rather, it is an oath to support, guide, and love your fellow Commodores through all of life’s ups and downs.

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