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Everyone calls me Nova

Surprisingly enough, when I say “Everyone”, I don’t simply mean everyone who knows me. In fact, the people who know me best only call me Nova in the most public and casual settings, using my own proper name most of the time.

Almost everyone—almost all of the guys, at least—at Bryan College seems to know me in some context. As the guy who organizes scavenger hunts, Christmas caroling events, registration parties, and other such mischief that overachievers waste their free time on, most people have come across my name in passing at some point in time.

It started small. I interacted with some of the freshmen during and in the days following orientation, and people remembered my name. I wasn’t sure why, but they did.

The next week, I organized a somewhat mediocre scavenger hunt on campus, and it gained the interest of three of the RAs in my dorm, as well as my RD.

But for the most part, I talked to people. I didn’t aggressively introduce myself to everyone I possibly could. I simply hung out with the people I knew. And as I did, I met people that they knew. Then one day, I rather accidentally met a guy named Drew, and he connected me with the Long First Group.

For the first month or two, I was surrounded in a swarm of people who knew me and were getting to know me. I made a point of learning to relate to everyone I could—athletes, engineers, English majors—because I had always hoped to be the kind of person that people would find dependable and available.

I may have mentioned Jack Smith, my friend who won the position of Freshman Senator during my first year as a Dual Enrollment Student. I had determined to follow in his footsteps if ever I became a student, and to run for the same position with an aim at furthering a career in the Student Government Association, or SGA. This goal I maintained, but for some reason, the SGA did not launch campaigns for quite some time, and so a set of events took place which threatened to prevent this from taking place at all.

On September 14, 2022, at around 5 pm, an intensifying set of mental struggles culminated in what could best be referred to as a mental breakdown.

Several things changed after that, not the least of which was my perception that everyone I met after that—people who wanted to be there for me and help me—was there merely to help someone who was struggling. Therefore, I was majorly skeptical of all of the people who tried to befriend me after that. Meanwhile, I continued to press onward, meet commitments, make good grades, and present a normal facade to the general population. Unfortunately, this caused things to get worse progressively, and I was compelled to be more vulnerable as people noticed that I was not doing well.

Finally, at the very beginning of October, applications for freshman campaigns for senate opened up. However, I had been having a considerable lack of self-confidence, a result of other struggles I was having. So, for the second time—the first time being in mid September, and the second just six days before campaigns opened, I sent the following message to Jack, who was my RA as well as the SGA president and Director of Campaigns and Elections:

I have applied even more thought to the matter
And decided not to enter the senate race.

I am not well equipped to do so.

To make a long story short, Jack spent the next 30 minutes persuading me to enter the race, and I finally conceded from the mere weariness of arguing with him about how qualified I was for the role. I approached him the next morning and told him quite plainly that at that point, I was moving forward merely on the weight of his confidence and stubbornness rather than under the power of my own ambition.

My campaign, while visually pleasing, was not nearly as sweeping as Jack’s had been. My campaign strategy was to capitalize on the fact that so many people already knew who I was. I told people that I was running, and they said with little reservation that they would vote for me, because they liked me and they liked the way I knew information and was passionate about things being done right.

Fall Break separated the beginning of campaigns from the election period, so the campaign window was extended to the end of the following week. At the end of Fall Break—Sunday, October 15—I was baptized along with my best friend in Pikeville, Tennessee, at what would become my home church during my time at Bryan College.

A week later, I woke up at 10 am Saturday morning, October 21, which was also my parent’s anniversary. When I looked at my phone, the first thing I saw was a message that I am convinced was deliberately worded to fire me up, which it did quite effectively.

I would like to congratulate you on your successful campaign, and welcome you to SGA! You have won the race to the senate!

Something about the way this was worded, combined with it being the first thing I saw that morning, lit a seemingly irrepressible fire inside of me.

The SGA did very little after that, but I would not pay much mind to this for a while. I spent the end of October overcoming another wave of mental turmoil and striving to balance grades, personal care, and a major upheaval in the social situation around me. At the same time, I also imagined, proposed, and organized a Registration Party for the other freshmen at which our Academic Resource Center provided donuts at 5:45 am as an encouragement for freshmen to wake up and register for the next semester’s courses as soon as they could.

This event was a success, and another wave of the name of Nova spread throughout the crowd Bryan College freshmen. However, I made an effort to fade quickly from the spotlight, so the wave subsided the whole thing was forgotten—so I thought—within a few days after it occurred.

This was the beginning of November. By this time, the massive bubble of people swarming around me—or at least around my name—had very drastically dispersed, leaving only a few people in my circle and several people who merely knew of me, many of whom did not hold a place in my memory.

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