My band director in high school would like to think I made the transition to college long before I ever set foot in a dorm, tasted my first bite of dining hall food, or endured one of the many icebreakers I would later become far too accustomed to. It was common for him to proclaim, “Welcome to college!” anytime someone found his grading policies unfair or his rehearsal schedules too rigorous.
In actuality, when my time at Syracuse finally began, I found college wasn’t exactly the nightmare my band director’s rhetoric had prepared me for. In fact, my first impression of college life was quite enjoyable. Three years later, I still attribute my easy transition into college to my involvement in the SUMB.
Despite the hundreds of pages of SU literature that had arrived in my mailbox all summer, college was, for the most part, still a mystery when I first moved in. As a result, I was excited, anxious, and scared all at the same time for what I would experience. When I first walked through the intimidating concrete concourse of the Carrier Dome to check in for Band Camp, I thought of my time as a freshman in high school. For that reason, I expected my first few encounters to be either 1) treated as strictly business, or 2) severely discredited for the fact that I was just a freshman (aka rookie, amateur, etc.).
Lucky for me, this wasn’t the case. The first person I met turned out to be one of the most influential people in my transition to college life. As soon as he approached me, he held out his hand and said, “Justin? I’m Kevin, your baritone section leader. It’s nice to meet you.” While it was clear that he could only have recognized me from my Facebook picture, his cheerfulness and sincerity set the tone for the rest of the week. From that point on, everyone I met was friendly and helpful.
By the time I began carrying my belongings into my dorm, the sophomore clarinet player that volunteered to help me had already shared with me the knowledge of a campus insider. She taught me how to use the Dome’s air-lock doors, warned me of the wind tunnels that form in the hallways of Lawrinson Hall, and informed me of Irene, the extremely friendly card swiper at Sadler Dining Hall.
For me, there couldn’t have been a better way to meet new friends than Band Camp. The many hours I spent working closely with a group of people that shared similar interests and a common goal proved to be an ideal environment for making friends.
When Opening Weekend finally arrived, I found that being in the SUMB had placed me at an advantage over other freshmen. In addition to having avoided endless lines of cars and unbearable waits for the elevator, I had made friends and acquired a familiarity with campus of someone who had been living there for months. Just the same, I was already involved in something that I was proud to be part of – a feat that took other freshmen weeks, months, and even years to accomplish.
Looking back on three years at Syracuse, the benefits of my involvement in the SUMB have lasted much longer than that first week on campus. Since then, the SUMB is where I’ve met my best friends and made some of my fondest memories. We performed at a Buffalo Bills game in Toronto, received multiple standing ovations for our performance of a Michael Jackson Tribute show, earned the “game ball” following the football team’s defeat of Maine, and much more.
Year after year, I’ve made the decision to return to the SUMB for many reasons. The biggest of these are the excellent performances that make rehearsals worthwhile, the camaraderie that fosters enjoyable personal and working relationships, and the strong traditions that make the SUMB an experience unlike any other.
That said, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to anyone who has just made the decision to join the SUMB and assure you that you will find your time in our family both fun and fulfilling.