By: Preston Wickremesekera
When I first started at Furman, I was convinced that every student here was from Charlotte, Charleston, or Atlanta. I did not meet anyone from outside of the South until after the first few days I spent on campus. This was something that was very different for me as I had grown up in a north suburb of Chicago for the past eighteen years. I’m sure you’re all wondering how did a kid from Chicago make his way to Furman in the first place?
During my junior year of high school, I sat in a dental chair getting my teeth cleaned when my dentist asked me “Preston where are you looking for college?” I told her I was looking at schools throughout the Midwest, but none of them really seemed to be the right fit for me, and that I knew I wanted to attend a school in the Southeast. She then asked me if I had visited Furman and I told her I hadn’t and had never even heard of this university before. She said her daughter had just toured Furman and loved it, so it was a school I should definitely look at too. During my senior year of high school, I toured Furman and really enjoyed my visit. However, in the back of my mind, I knew I would have a tough decision ahead of me.
As I considered the factors of every school I was accepted into, I deeply considered why Furman would be the best place for me. I joked that the negative twenty degree Chicago winters were what brought me to South Carolina, but this was not the whole truth. Yes, I did want some better weather, but really I knew I wanted two main things: a good education and small class sizes. These were two things that Furman offered that really drew me in and captured my interest. During my tour, I also was able to sit in on a real Furman class and converse with students and a professor. Looking back on it, that experience is something that really stood out to me. I could see the genuine relationships that Furman students had with their professors and that the professors really took pride in ensuring their students gained success. After really thinking about that experience following my visit to Furman, I knew it was the place for me. I knew it would be a place where I could challenge myself academically and garner strong relationships with my professors. I also knew I could fit in socially with all of the students.
Making a college decision is something that is not easy, but by really considering everything that Furman offered, I knew it would be a place where I could grow and succeed. Coming from town hundreds of miles from Greenville was a scary thought when I first arrived on campus back in 2018, but it is something that I will always be extremely grateful for as it has changed my entire life. The friends I have made at Furman and the connections I have formed are things that will last far beyond my time here. If I have any advice for those of you reading this, it would to not be afraid to go with your gut feeling. I genuinely believed Furman was the place for me when I decided to attend, and I was right. My family was sad that I was moving so far away, but they knew that I was following what I thought was best and would do whatever was needed to succeed. My journey to Furman was definitely an interesting one, but is something that I will never stop being thankful for in my lifetime.