How I came to be a Seahawk

Lanre Badmus, Staff Writer

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Editor’s Note: Lanre Badmus is a junior at UNCW studying International Business with a minor in French. Lanre also works as a staff writer for The Seahawk. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Staff writer Lanre Badmus may be found on Twitter @LonnyBadmon. All suggestions or inquires may be sent via email to ob9108@uncw.edu.

It was July 2014 and I was a couple of months away from starting my senior year of high school. I was getting ready to apply to colleges and had most of my list sorted out for application season, but I was still looking for maybe a few more schools to potentially apply to. Coming from a rich suburb in New Jersey, I was naturally mainly looking at schools that were in the Northeast. However, I was open to looking a little bit outside of the bubble – I had endured a rough experience in high school and felt that a little extra distance from home wouldn’t be a bad idea. I decided I was interested in schools in the Southeast.

I remember that I was on a forum called College Confidential – a site that I no longer frequent – one day, and I was private messaging a user who I had received high-quality advice from for several months and whom I had grown to truly respect. I was talking to him about my interest in Southeastern schools, particularly Florida schools, as I was attracted to the weather and size of some of them. Specifically, I liked Florida State University and its big-time sports coupled with respectable academics.

However, he had questioned whether I could handle the sheer size of the school without getting lost in the shuffle and inevitably becoming a small fish in a large, 33,000-student pond (I did apply and get into a college in Florida, but it wasn’t FSU). Instead, he had suggested some smaller schools that were more suited to my aptitudes and interests, and one school caught my eye in particular.

“If you like FSU, which is a landlocked Florida school, why not coastal universities such as UNC Wilmington?”

For some reason, UNCW had stood out to me over any other schools that were recommended. I decided to consider the school and I found that it actually was a great fit for me. I felt that the undergraduate enrollment size of 15,000 was an excellent size, the campus looked gorgeous in pictures and I had heard the social atmosphere was very chill and laid-back. Most importantly for me as a business major, the Cameron School of Business ranked very well against peer institutions. The university in general was academically well-respected but not crazy rigorous and its-then 59 percent acceptance rate meant I felt I could get in with my credentials. Of course, the beach being only 10 minutes away was a huge plus.

I applied as early as possible in August. While some of my reach schools such as UMass Amherst, Northeastern and Syracuse were foremost in my mind, UNCW never wavered from my top half of what would be 14 schools on my final application list. Some of those reaches had eliminated themselves and schools like Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and Stetson University in Florida had accepted me and thus established themselves as early contenders. Rider University, my in-state private safety school, also gave me a great confidence boost to kick things off at the start of November.

Then came the 12th of January 2015. I stayed home from school with a cold on that wintry day, a rarity for me on a Monday. I was looking for anything to pick up my downtrodden mood that afternoon. Then, I received a sudden, unexpected text from my dad.

“Son, this should cheer you up. Congratulations, the University of North Carolina Wilmington has accepted you!”

Immediately I leapt out of bed, fist pumping and bellowing in elation – completely ignoring the fact that my dad opened my letter for me. It was as if the cold which had been bugging me throughout the day had left me. I was still waiting for a decision from UMass, which would turn out to be a denial (I didn’t think a then-61 percent acceptance rate would be at all tough to crack), but I didn’t really care. As soon as I got into UNCW, I knew that this was where I wanted to go.

I had “verbally” committed to UNCW come February, thanks in large part to the people I had met in the Class of 2019 Facebook group, and subsequently, the group chat on an app called Quad. My interactions in there only confirmed the chill and friendly vibes I got before. I got into six universities in as many different states, including Hofstra – our CAA conference rivals – and the University of Pittsburgh, but no other school came close. Although my parents and siblings heavily preferred me to attend Quinnipiac due to it being only a two-hour drive from home, I decided to take the plunge and picked a school that was nine hours away. The arguments prolonged my official decision until the eve of the deadline, but I had gotten what I wanted in the end.

After more than two years of being a UNCW student, I have formed very distinct opinions about the school. Some of my biggest positives are the laid-back vibe and friendliness of the student body, Wrightsville Beach being mere minutes from campus and the excellence of the professors, among other qualities. On the flip side, housing could stand to not screw up every year, Wag could always be a little better and campus being a bit more diverse wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Oh, and as utterly insignificant as it is in reality, we still haven’t faced the Massachusetts Minutemen in sports since I’ve attended this university. If that were to happen and we were to beat them, preferably in soccer or basketball, I would finally get even with my former first-choice and never have to mention them again. However, I should probably note that we could literally take a random group of students and defeat their football team.

It’s now been more than two years since I boarded an early-morning Amtrak train, alone, to leave virtually everything I had ever known for a city and state I had never been to before. I didn’t get to visit before my August orientation, so I went in blind. Since then, I’ve been extremely involved on campus via writing for The Seahawk, helping found the Student Seahawk Club and becoming co-treasurer of the French Club, among other ventures. I’ve discovered – and become a huge fan of – Cookout and Bojangles. My GPA now is higher than it ever was in my turbulent high school days. I’m able to say that my school has qualified for not one, but two March Madness men’s basketball tournaments – and that I was blessed enough to see us win the conference title in Charleston last year after watching us beat Hofstra on TV the year before. I’ve worn teal and screamed my heart out at every single basketball game. I attend a vibrant church that aligns with my core beliefs and values. I have a loyal core group of friends who I’m confident will remain so for the rest of our lives. I really have found the right fit and I thank God that I’m able to wake up every day and call myself a UNCW Seahawk.