I’m Excited to Meet You

Coming here, I was kind of terrified that I wouldn’t have anything in common with my peers. Thankfully, I’ve been proven wrong again and again.


The college application process is overwhelming. Between test scores, campus rankings, and aid applications, it’s easy to forget why we chose to go to a particular school at all. In my opinion, despite all the bells and whistles, where you choose to go ultimately reflects a sense of recognition. There is some part of you that recognizes an opportunity to grow and be nourished. The school resonates with you, or who you want to be. Then, you spend the next four years trying to understand what that really means. 

This is a pretty giant undertaking. To have this unique opportunity to reinvent yourself, to experience what you always imagined college to be like or to be an idealized version of yourself, puts on a lot of pressure. If you did six years of ballet as a child, is that something to hold on to? If you were a skilled debater in high school, does that legacy has to be carried forth in college? Do you dress like the college students you saw in the chick flicks growing up or do you try to find some new aesthetic? Combining all these pre-existing uncertainties with the new ones created by moving to a different place and meeting new people introduces an even more daunting era of your life. As someone who not only moved half-way across the world but also academically chose to be involved in a myriad of subjects, I definitely faced my fair share of challenges. At Kenyon, however, there is hope. One of the aspects of being here that helped me the most, allowing me to reorient myself and explore every aspect of my identity, was the wonderfully diverse community. 

This is a pretty giant undertaking. To have this unique opportunity to reinvent yourself, to experience what you always imagined college to be like, puts on a lot of pressure.

Syeda Rida Zaneb '25

Diversity at Kenyon is more than a buzzword — it doesn’t really refer to admissions metrics but rather the quality of your experiences. In my orientation week, the people I met had lived lives so interesting and boasted accomplishments so excitingly unique that my own apprehension dissipated. As people, we build connections by identification. When you meet someone, you look for something you can both relate to; some shared interest or experience. Coming here, I was kind of terrified that I wouldn’t have anything in common with my peers. Thankfully, I’ve been proven wrong again and again. Kenyon always feels fresh to me. Even within the close-knit community, you never know when you’re going to meet your next favorite person. 

In a recent article, the Dean of Admissions, Diane Anci, says of Kenyon:  “This is a place that’s going to take you seriously, that’s going to challenge you, that’s going to support you, we want you to walk away from every interaction you have with us feeling some or all of those things.” Even after three years here, I can confidently say that those feelings never vanish. 

I talked to some of my friends who I’ve seen transform from the same nervous freshmen that I was to pivotal members of the community to understand their journeys. Kohkoh, an economics major and the president of the African Students Association, stressed the importance of putting yourself in situations where you meet more of Kenyon. “Go out,” she says, “Go to every meeting you see, every flier that catches your eye, and give it a chance. That’s where I met all the people who helped influence me into becoming me.” There are more than a hundred different clubs and organizations at Kenyon, so rest assured that you will find your people. 

“The people I met at Kenyon gave me the confidence to take up space,” she said, “Never be afraid to take up as much space as you need to be who you are at Kenyon, because there is enough for us all.” Instead of narrowing yourself down to titles that only describe part of your identity, it is imperative to build the confidence to exist in all the roles you may identify yourself as. And there is no better place to start that process. 

So, then, how do you answer the big question at Kenyon? Who are you going to be? What I can tell you is that there is no uniform approach. The Kenyon identity is multidimensional. Kenyon doesn’t dictate what students are like. Rather, the students shape Kenyon into what it is. When you come here, you must not let the idea of who you should be overtake the realities of all that you are. You are encouraged to celebrate your identities, to evolve within your interests and to expand your academic horizons. There is refuge here for all that you are and all that you might grow to be.

I get to celebrate my heritage every time I attend a cozy Chai and Chat meeting held by the South Asian Society, and when I participate in the cultural events arranged by the Center for Global Engagement. Academically, long conversations in office hours with professors or sitting in at talks and visits has shaped me more as a student than any textbook ever could. Here, having a variety of interests is not only encouraged but expected. The way Kenyon is structured challenges you to break out of your comfort zone and try new things. That’s where you really get to know yourself. 

My friend Beshoy is double-majoring in mathematics and economics, while also serving on the board for the International Society at Kenyon and as an Admissions tour guide. When I inquired how he managed to balance it all, he replied, “The work doesn’t feel like work if it’s just what you like doing.” It’s easy to get pulled into many different directions, but prioritizing what brings you the most joy and sense of accomplishment is an essential ingredient of success at college. He also emphasized taking care of yourself. “Get enough sleep, please, and eat regular meals. Even during midterms, because if you’re exhausted, then you don’t really get to do much of anything.” Just like at any other point in your life, taking care of your physical and mental health puts you in the best position to achieve your goals in college.

In the end, the  Kenyon experience transcends the mere acquisition of knowledge and skills; it is an integral part of your  journey of self-discovery and personal growth. As you navigate the complexities of identity, community, and academic exploration, I think you’ll find the most interesting and meaningful parts of yourself. And I’m excited to meet you.