Print   |   Back
September 5, 2012
College Voices
Igniting the Fires - by Michela Hunter
by College Voices
Michela Hunter
Freshman, Brigham Young University

The darkness in the football stadium split as the fireworks erupted in the sky above us. These weren’t the dinky neighborhood fireworks people set off in their backyards on the fourth of July back home, with five minutes between each firework and the next; these were huge clusters of stars that emitted satisfying bangs and shook the ground when they went off.

Down in the stands, we, the freshman class of Brigham Young University, screamed our approval as we clapped and cheered and generally added to the noise swelling over the stadium. Watching the lights flash above me, I smiled to myself and thought, “Well, BYU sure knows how to welcome its freshmen.”

The past week was a maelstrom of activity. Tuesday was move-in-and-meet-roommates day; Wednesday was settle-in and bid farewell to family; and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were a whirlwind of introductions, each proceeding much the same way: Name? Place of origin? Major?

Apart from my roommates, all five of whom are already like family to me, most of the new names and faces have blurred together; but the feeling permeating this place is universal. Everyone is kind; everyone is friendly; most everyone shares the same standards and upbringing in the Gospel that I do. I feel as though I’m at EFY on steroids, which isn’t a bad feeling. But when the novelty wears off, I hope I won’t be overcome by the homesickness I’ve been keeping at bay for the past week.

I’m no expert in how other universities conduct their orientations, but there were certain things about BYU’s that made it special. The orientation program they did for us was great, even though it required us to wake up at the crack of dawn and usually kept us out well after dark. The three days during which it took place flew by and we began to wish for classes to start, just so we could have some time to breathe (though once classes did start and we realized just how much homework we were going to be having, most of us were wishing for orientation again). 

They divided us into small Y groups, much like EFY companies, and for three days showed us around campus and the library, gave us an entertainingly cheesy “Honor Night With David Betterman” to emphasize the importance of the honor code; had us meet with our respective colleges; introduced us to some key BYU athletes; held for us an awe-inspiring devotional that made me realize just how fundamental the gospel is here, and threw us so many parties and dances that we were all quite exhausted by the end of everything.

I was so happy to finally explore the campus, excited to feel the energy radiating from all the other freshmen, and intrigued to see what an important role in everyday life the gospel plays here.

I kind of miss the missionary moments I’d have almost daily in high school, but living amidst thousands of other Latter-Day Saints, beginning orientation meetings and classes with a prayer, and living in the same building as most of my ward makes me feel that I’m not here just to learn, but to grow spiritually as well. That’s probably the whole point of BYU, actually, but it’s something I’d never really thought about until now, and the more that I do, the more I realize how true it is.

Why did I come to BYU? I could have gone somewhere else if I’d really wanted; no one made me choose BYU. Sure, the tuition, room, and board are easily affordable; sure, they throw us three-day parties they call orientation; sure, they set off fireworks for us and are kind and give us a ton of free stuff. But that’s not why.

It’s not that big a mystery, really. The bell tower outside my apartment plays hymns periodically. The motto “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,” can be seen on all the buildings on campus, many of which are named after apostles and prophets. Yesterday my Italian teacher taught us to pray in Italian. On Sundays, the campus is full of people dressed in Sunday clothes, attending church in every single one of the buildings. I can see the temple from my living room window, and even though it’s not the DC Temple, it’s no different. 

There’s something here that I know can’t be found at any other university, and I’m a part of that now. The fun part will be learning to apply the principles and mottos they teach here to my own life. That, I think, is what I look forward to the most.

Copyright © 2024 by College Voices Printed from