Letter to Freshmen

Welcome to Stetson! You’re in for some serious adventures, to be sure.

Carmen Cruz

Dear newbies, 


Welcome to Stetson! You’re in for some serious adventures, to be sure. I’ve certainly had my fair share of them. As a senior, I’ve accrued some hard-won knowledge that I think might make your transition a little easier, so listen up! 


  1. It’s okay to not be okay for a while. Sometimes, a sudden change can be hard. Sometimes, you’ll get homesick, or you’ll go through something major, or you’ll feel awful for no particular reason at all. That’s okay! We’ve all been there, and I’m here to tell you that with time, it gets so much better. Two things have helped me through these transition periods: the first was the free services offered by the counseling center on campus, and the second was sheer persistence. Keep going. Even if it hurts. Even if it feels impossible. Never ever forget your why. If you’re here, then there’s a reason for it. Remember your future, your ambition, your dreams, and press onward. Ask for help when you need it (and refuse to feel shame for doing so!), and keep going. 
  2. Maintain a healthy level of caution. Any woman, POC, or member of the LGBTQIA+ community will tell you that DeLand can get dicey, and the world tends to look the other way when we experience injustice, so despite the supreme unfairness of this statement, the reality is that your safety is now your responsibility. Look out for one another. Use common sense. If you have a funny feeling in your gut about something, please for the love of God, heed that warning. Now, should you live your life in fear? Absolutely not. But too many people have walked through these hallowed halls, fresh aface and charged with optimism, only to be bombarded with bitter realities. Part of reaching adulthood means accepting responsibility, and that comes in many forms. Fun is good, but safe is better. 
  3. Failure isn’t fatal. Getting a bad grade, failing a class, getting fired from a job, etc. are not the end of the world. Everything can be an opportunity for growth with the right attitude. Be kind to yourself. Learn from your mistakes. Reach for your best, not for perfection. 
  4. Try new things! There’s no better time than the present to reach beyond your comfort zone and stumble upon your next favorite thing. Take a class in a department that has nothing to do with your major, venture downtown and marvel at the whimsy within, go to Pride night on Tuesdays at DaVinci’s, order something spicy to see if you can handle it. Follow your curiosity and see where it takes you. In my experience, there’s no better way to learn than this. 
  5. Travel if you can, it quite literally makes you a better person. You’ll learn stuff that Stetson could never teach you and you’ll see things that’ll take your breath away. Look for scholarships! I paid for my first study abroad trip exclusively on scholarship and GoFundMe. Nothing is impossible for those who persist!
  6. Make the most of every opportunity. Stetson has a lot to offer, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. So get organized, utilize your resources, and go after it. Join a club, get a job and/or an internship, apply for scholarships, enter in competitions, submit to Touchstone and get published, the list goes on. Beef up your resume as well as your academic transcript because, as it turns out, one without the other is getting flimsier by the day. 
  7. And last but certainly not least, learn to advocate for yourself. You’ll hear people say that a lot, but they’ll use it as an excuse to run all over you. “There’s nothing we can do, they didn’t advocate for themselves,” blah blah blah. Don’t let it stand. You’re adults now, so you’ve gotta use your voice and make others hear you. Be civil. Be respectful. But absolutely do not let others take advantage of your inaction. Stand up for yourself, even if you shouldn’t have to. It may not be your fault, but it is your problem. If something’s not right or not fair, then do something about it. 




AKA your friendly neighborhood cripple