Reflections of a Spartan

Posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2013 by admin under Events, Graduate Alumni, Students, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , ,

Matt BarrettPost by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

For more than two months I’ve been at UNCG, but it wasn’t until this past week that I truly considered myself a “Spartan.”  It might not be called an epiphany, but I like to think of it as the next best thing.  On Monday, I was talking to a few friends about the upcoming men’s basketball season, and one of them mentioned the UNC – UNCG game on December 7th.  For the last two years, I’ve been a Tar Heels fan.  I live in Chapel Hill, and the Dean Smith Center is about a mile from my apartment.  I’ve gone to several UNC games, and I always wear my Carolina Blue—but for whatever reason, I pictured myself in navy and gold, cheering on the underdogs.  I felt like I had to correct myself.  How could I switch allegiances so quickly?  But this wasn’t some kind of “Freudian slip.”  I knew then that I had officially become a Spartan.

So what is a Spartan?  I thought about what it could be, other than a UNCG student.  I figured I should have at least a basic understanding of the term before I proclaim to the world that I’m a Spartan.  I found the word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “A native or inhabitant of ancient Sparta.”  That didn’t sound like me.  I thought I spoke too soon.  But the second definition is a little more applicable: “A person of great courage and self-discipline.”  Now that’s something I can get behind—especially since my undergraduate mascot was the Bullets.  Merriam-Webster defines “bullet” as a “small piece of metal that is shot out of a gun.”  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be defined by great courage than a piece of metal.

I think it’s funny, that after all this time at UNCG, I didn’t really know what “Spartan” meant.  I see the word everyday.  It’s in the left hand corner of my emails, and on Blackboard, the website, on students’ t-shirts.  But now that I’ve taken some time to think about it, I realize that it’s the perfect definition for graduate students.  To even consider grad school takes courage.  It’s a demanding endeavor.  If you’re looking for a forty hour work week, don’t put grad school on your list.  I haven’t worked for forty hours or less since I quit my 9 to 5 job.   That’s why self-discipline is an essential part of being a Spartan.  The work seems endless, especially during these last few weeks, during midterms.  I wrote a blog a little while ago about relaxing when the work gets tough, but I’ll admit, it’s a hard thing to do.  In order to relax, we need self-discipline.  When the papers and exams start piling up, there’s only one way to avoid stress: by finishing the work ahead of time.  So while we’re not natives of ancient Sparta, I think we all deserve the university’s nickname.

Fall break is over and we’ve officially entered the second half of this semester.  I feel like it’s the perfect time to remind ourselves why we’re here, and how we might accomplish the tasks at hand.  It’ll take a little courage and a whole lot of discipline, but that’s why we’re Spartans.  On December 7th, I will make my way through the endless sea of Carolina Blue, wearing my navy and gold, ready to cheer on our school.  It’s strange to think that this is less than two months away.  Now that the final weeks are upon us, we should face them with bravery and—never mind.  300_prepare_for_gloryI would like to conclude this blog with an epic motivational speech, but I think that’s because I have “Spartans” on my mind, and consequently, the movie 300.  I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard Gerard Butler’s monologue, when 300 Spartans are led into battle against 300,000 soldiers.  With all the work we have left, it might feel like we’re fighting a similar war.  But rather than try to replicate this ridiculous moment, I will end my blog here.