UKirk has a special place in my heart, and it really has been a home for me during my time at UT. You may have heard us call it a home over and over, but we keep saying it because it is true. I have made some of my best friends in this place. When I am at UKirk I know that I can be as goofy as I would be at home. Every Wednesday this year, I would gather with people to watch the TV show Parks and Rec. Just little hang outs such as this help make college that much sweeter.

UKirk is a home to us because of the culture’s ability to bring together people of various spiritual journeys; the house becomes a melting pot of ideas and assumptions. As a result, occasional critical conversations about topics ranging from comparing/contrasting denominations to social justice (or discussions about cats) arise. As it is the Presbyterian house, it is affirming to have so many Presbyterians my age concentrated into one building. The programs offered, such as Seminary Light, provided opportunities place that allowed for my faith to grow; UKirk provided a place and the resources for critical analysis of the bible. I learned why translations of the bible matter and studied recurring themes in the bible, which I think is a responsibility of being a Christian.UKirk was literally was my home for two years as I was in the resident program. Being a steward of the house was such a fun and educating experience on responsibility, leadership, and handywork. Taking care of it was a source of pride for me, and my self-esteem grew because of it. Taking care of UGrow had a similar effect. For us to have a community garden that donates food to the student food pantry is one way that we are engaging with the community. I was so proud when the garden was established by Kristen because it showed me that UKirk was ready to branch out and to use our talents for something good.

For the incoming class, I would recommend two things. First, not to scare you, but please do not forget to take care of yourself. The five questions I have written on my bulletin board are: “Eating enough? Sleeping enough? Reading textbooks enough? Studying enough? Exercising?”. College is a game of priorities and figuring out how to balance them will help you tremendously. This leads me into my second point: have a time-management plan. Figure out what works for you. What worked for me was turning my freshman year into a 40 hour work week and filling any downtime I had between 9-5 with school work, preventing me from falling behind. Specifically for UKirk, don’t forget that there is free laundry in the basement.

Have fun!

Jack Marshall
Graduate Student