By: Brianna Harris
When I first entered Hess Hall in the fall of 2013, I had no idea what my world would become in just five short years. You always hear how pivotal college is, but no one prepares you for the many ups and downs that it brings.
No one tells you about your comfort zone at a university with over 20,000 students. Ultimately, college is one big trial and error that you never really master, but find a few cheat codes along the way to make it to the last level. When I entered Hess, I had no idea that my dreams of becoming a music executive would soon diminish into a passion for involvement and student engagement. I still remember seeing the flyers “Hess Hall Council Wants You.” I applied for the president position on a leap of faith. What was the harm in it? Little did I expect to be awarded the position. So there I was, a freshman, newly elected to serve as the president of the largest residence hall on campus. I went from no programming experience to planning multiple events with a $10,000 budget. This opportunity led to my many other involvements with University Housing, such as working as a resident assistant, office assistant, and on the Vols @ Home Orientation team. I also attended conferences where I was awarded and recognized for my programming initiatives.
University Housing opened a door for me that I never knew existed. Joining Hess Hall Council not only gave me opportunities through housing, but gave me the
confidence to pursue membership in other offices and organizations, such as Multicultural Student Life, Campus Entertainment Board, and my beloved sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. In the fall of 2016, I decided to take a leave from school. I was struggling with my passions and my purpose and used this time to reflect an
d discover the things that made me happy. One day it clicked that I wanted to work in student affairs, to help students’ like myself get engaged and connected to students like them and feel a part of a college community. When I returned to UT this past fall to complete my degree, my journey began to make sense. There is beauty in the struggle. I am proud to say that I will be graduating this year with a degree in Communication Studies and pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling; College Student Affairs in the fall. I thank University Housing for giving me the push that I needed and for opening a door for me so that I could do the same for students in the future. My only advice for incoming freshmen and current students is to trust your own process and get inVOLved.