From: Jonathan Chang <j******>
Date: Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 12:50 AM EST
Subject: A belated hello
To: [email protected]
bcc: [66 email addresses]

Hello UCA Class of 2021,

I hope you’re all doing well and have enjoyed the past few months of classes, as well as your break. I know several of you have also had your birthdays in the past few months, I hope you’re enjoying your life one year older. I’ve wanted to write to all of you for a very long time now and I apologize that this is comes so late. It goes without saying that I really miss all of you and think about you all very often! I’m reminded of UCA pretty much every single day. I’ll often see someone on the street that looks like one of you and my mind just wanders while I’m at work to one of the many experiences we shared at UCA.

One of my good friends from university who had an SLA-type job for first year students at Yale (we call them Freshmen Counselors) told me that he writes to all his students once per semester and he’ll continue until they graduate. I thought that was a great idea so this is my first one. I guess that means there will hopefully be at least 7 more of these over the next four years.

I. Thankfulness

Since coming back to the US, I’ve been reflecting upon just how thankful I am for the past year. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work in a country located in a region that I knew so little about, for a university that until last year hadn’t officially opened its doors, with some of my now favorite people in the world (i.e., all of you). Truthfully, I miss last year so much now, even more than I thought I would.

Thankfulness is something that makes waking, working, and living a more joyful experience. Notice when life is good. When you’re relaxing in your dorm with your roommate, having an engaging conversation in the dining hall, studying with friends in a lounge at 1 am, stop and just consciously absorb the moment. Say to yourself, wow this is really nice. Even in the midst of studying for exams or trying to finish a difficult assignment, remind yourself that even exams and homework are opportunities that many people would love to have.

II. Friendship

I am grateful that so many of you allowed me to become your friend last year! Who would have known that a Taiwanese-American boy would be able to experience such meaningful relationships with so many people at UCA? One of the things that really warmed my heart last year was how well you take care of each other. Continue to be there for each other and take care of each other. Especially when school is difficult, relationships are strained, or things happen with family or friends. And when good things happen, it’s always much better to celebrate with friends.

From a very utilitarian point of view, the people around you will be crucial to your success in the future, and vice versa. Even though I’ve only been out of university for 2 years, I can’t say how many times my own friends have been able to help me out in pretty important ways or inspired me to try different things that are now a big part of my life.

III. Purpose

Even though I’m sure that most of you are studying hard for classes, it’s also important to think about what you care about and how you can connect that to your education. I highly encourage you to explore! Pursue opportunities outside classes and also outside UCA. That could mean working on a project (like pursuing a business idea or making short videos) that interests you with other UCA students or reaching out to the local community and volunteering with different organizations that have a need. The personal projects and volunteering I did while I was in university probably led me to the SLA job at UCA, so you never know how those things can open up new opportunities.

Also very important: don’t be afraid to send a well-written email or message to people that you admire. People usually will respond and sometimes cool things can happen! I remember once in my first year, me and my friend just called a pretty famous tech entrepreneur, which ended up giving us the opportunity to fly out (for free) to Silicon Valley to do an interview at a tech incubator called Y Combinator. You really never know what can happen; the worse is that they just never respond and that’s not so bad.

In that vein, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I’d be happy to talk or just to look over resumes or applications. Take care and I hope to see you soon.

Your friend (and former SLA),