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Reflections on sleepless nights

By Hannah Epperson

Hannah Epperson

The night before I came to UNC Asheville my freshman year, I stayed up all night puking.

If I had known about UNC Asheville—I mean, really known about it—I probably would have slept peacefully through the night. I was convinced UNC Asheville was where I wanted to be—small classes, great professors, the "liberal arts" gig. But all of that didn't seem like a fair trade for the familiarity and closeness of my hometown and my high school.
The first day of college did little to dispel my nausea. My parents left me with the three strangers who I would be living with for the next eight months. Our personalities, which ranged from chaotic artist to hyper-organized psych major, seemed like a recipe for disaster.

The next morning I went to my first class, Lang 120 with Dr. Blake Hobby, who told us we would learn to write essays by watching documentaries, and cracked jokes that no one knew how to respond to—a fact that he found hilarious.

I could not have known that nearly four years later my last student-teacher conference would find me back in Dr. Hobby's office, chatting for nearly two hours with the professor who had guided me through every semester of college.

And I could not have predicted that those three strangers I lived with freshman year would become my closest friends. If I had known all that, surely I would have slept like a baby that last night before college.

Soon I'll be facing another sleepless night: the one before graduation, but instead of counting sheep, I'll be mentally ticking off the things that have made my time at UNC Asheville so special."

Although the next several semesters saw plenty of other sleepless nights, none was quite as restless as the night before my interview at the university's News Services office, where I had applied for a paid internship.

A few toss-and-turn nights later found me dancing in my dorm room after a phone call from my new boss, offering me the job I would end up keeping for the rest of my time at UNC Asheville.

I started out with little more news writing experience than that gained from the basic class required of all Mass Comm students. But my bosses, Merianne Miller and Jill Yarnall, and later Steve Plever, guided me through each revision and draft with the patience of tee-ball coaches. It felt like having three professors all to myself for a couple hours every day—except instead of getting graded, I got paid.

Soon I'll be facing another sleepless night: the one before graduation. But instead of counting sheep, I'll be mentally ticking off the things that have made my time at UNC Asheville so special:
Late at night in the video lab I could always find someone to come watch a scene I had put together, and they would tell me if the sound levels were off, or if the pacing was right.
I'll remember the time my roommate and I studied by turning our dining-room wall into a giant timeline and raced to see who could get the most authors into the correct centuries.
Really, if I had really known all these things about UNC Asheville that first night before college, there's no way I could have happily slept through the night. I would have been too excited.

Editor's Note: Hannah graduated in May with a degree in Mass Communication and Literature. She began her career at WCQS Public Radio the next week as the local host of "Weekend Edition."

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