THOUGH the Rolling Stones don't rank among my favorite bands, their lyrics rang true for me recently as I reflected on the years I've spent on these Grounds. You can't always get what you want/ But if you try sometimes/ You just might find/ You'll get what you need.
At the University, those who swam with the big fish in high school's small pond suffer a rude awakening. Here, competition extends well beyond the classroom walls, and you can't always get what you want. It's no longer enough to simply show interest in an organization. Writing an essay, taking a test, surviving an audition or acing an interview pre-date involvement in many of the University's countless student-run groups. You don't always get to join the ones you want to - at least not the first time you try.
Though the first University rejection hits the typical over-achiever rather hard, it shouldn't halt ambition. Even the most prolific students have faced rejection - indeed, it's a hallmark of the University experience.
Your first failed attempt to break into the ranks of the University's many exclusive groups likely won't be your last. Though rejection may keep you from doing something you're dying to try, it also makes you appreciate more fully the privilege of membership in the groups to which you do belong.
The organizations that have monopolized my non-academic life at the University provided some of the most rewarding experiences I've had during the past four years. With these, the final words of my career as a columnist, I'd like to thank the people who have made these organizations - and, by extension, my University experience - all that I imagined they would be when I arrived here four years ago.
The Cavalier Daily's office didn't always sprawl throughout the Newcomb Hall Basement. As a first-year student, I traipsed to the tiny brick building next to the Emmet Street Chevron to check out the CD's temporary home. Out of that first visit came a four-year career spanning several levels of the paper's leadership hierarchy and countless column topics ranging from the relevant to the ridiculous. Through it all, however, the support of the staff never faltered. Huge thank-yous go to the opinion family - to Noel and Julia, my patient mentors and to Tom, Katie and Tim, my tireless associates. A special thanks to Masha who remained my partner and confidante through it all - from that first sprint to the Alderman bus stop to the last columns of our careers.
Serving as a Resident Advisor, though at times a difficult task, proved one of the most rewarding aspects of my University career. Stressful sometimes, demanding always, resident staff managed to provide some of my greatest University friendships, along with some of my most trying moments. To the appropriate staff of Kent and Dabney - you made it fun, you made it funny and because of you, I made it through. Thanks for all the Castle trips and stoop talks. Without them, we might have gone insane.
Who knew I'd voluntarily spend the last semester of my fourth year choreographing a musical for a bunch of first-year drama queens (and kings)? Only loyalty to an organization that once allowed me to pursue my own passion for performance convinced me. The allure of Los Sex Magnets also played a role in my decision. Thanks to First-Year Players, the spring of 1997 - spent as a cast member - marks one of the high points of my University life. Thanks to my return to FYP, the spring of 2000 - spent as a choreographer - marks another. My love and gratitude goes out to those who made dedicating 20 hours a week an enjoyable experience.
The ladies of the Virginia Dance Company know how to shake their bon-bons. And for the past 4 years, I've felt privileged to perform with them. Only among these talented women can I find kindred spirits who understand how I lived my pre-University life. They, too, spent 25 hours a week in the ballet studio, twisting their bodies in constant pursuit of artistic perfection. Thank you for dancing with me and for playing a part in the aspect of my University experience most important as an outlet and a forum for unadulterated joy.
Without these organizations, my University life would not have been complete. Without the friends who've been my acting family in this, my second home, my University life would not have been possible.
Though the University isn't a perfect place and hasn't always provided exactly what I've wanted, in the end, I can't think of anything more I might have needed. To those I leave behind: Ask the hard questions. Don't be afraid to challenge the problems you perceive. The University's future lies with you. To those who leave with me: Bon voyage ... it's been a great ride.
(Amy Startt's column appeared Wednesdays in The Cavalier Daily. She is a former associate editor and Opinion editor.)