2018 Senior Reflections: How Long is Four Years

Ayushi Agarwal, Photo Editor

How Long is Four Years

By Chelsea Jackson

Four Years. One thousand four hundred and sixty days here at Emory. I couldn’t have imagined the relationships I have built, the opportunities I’ve had, the lessons I’ve learned. Emory has been so many things to me, nuanced like all life experiences are. I’ve never been to Maggie’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill or been let out of class by Dooley, and this University was not made, in 1836, for little Black girls. And yet, Emory belongs to me — a Black girl from Decatur, Ga. — as much as it belongs to the Buddhist monks, the business school student from New Jersey with a silver BMW, the international student from Brazil.

We all are Emory, and none of us are.

Being an activist has taught me just how short our time is in the life of a university. In the course of my time here, I helped fashion the Fall 2015 Black Student Demands. There are some faculty who have been here since the 1968 Black Student Demands. Begrudgingly, I’ve accepted that changes to large institutions are slow and incremental. We still don’t have a curriculum inclusivity/diversity GER and there has yet to be a meaningful increase in faculty of color, although progress is being made. As a first-year student, those were two of the initiatives I latched onto, hoping to accomplish them in my four years. I failed.

But we did not fail. Emory did not fail. Like every other American institution, Emory struggles with all the isms. The history and legacy of native removal, slavery and exclusion do not skip the “heart of dear old Dixie Emory.” What makes Emory unique is its malleability. Its willingness to say, “OK, I was wrong. Let’s do something about this together.” And that is what I will miss most after May 14. Though I will miss the Yumbii food truck in walking distance and the smiles of familiar faces as I walk across campus, perhaps no other place in the world will be as malleable. But we must take our fire, our enthusiasm, our big mouths, our youth, our immaturity, our “millennialism” and force the world to be like Emory. A place that says, “OK, I was wrong. Let’s do something about this together.”

Class of 2018, we cannot go back and change the past 1,459 days. Our accomplishments, however meager or notable, only propel us forward. I am all of the things on my Emory resume, and I am none of them.

Chelsea Jackson is from Decatur, Ga., and was awarded the 2018 Rhodes Scholarship.