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An Eagle Looks Back, Shares Words of Wisdom for First-Year Students

Heather Roselle ’25 looks back at several busy and fulfilling years and shares her advice for students just starting out at AU

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Heather Roselle, photo by Patty HousmanHeather Roselle, photo by Patty Housman 

Heather Roselle (BA American studies and studio art ’25) is filled with excitement for the new school year. She serves as the vice chair of the CAS Dean's Student Advisory Council and works as a student manager at AU’s Davenport Coffee Lounge. She also holds positions within the AU Honors program and the Community-Based Research Scholars program, and she was recently granted a research fellowship within the AU Summer Scholars Program. 

As a first-generation college student, Heather says she has found a deep sense of community working at the Dav where she feels lucky to work alongside students who share many of her core values. She knows how hard it can feel to find "your place," and she’s excited to share how she has found her community at AU.

Washington Monument, Heather

First year students meet so many people in the first few weeks at American University. What advice do you have for them when they first arrive on campus?

Everybody is just as anxious as you are. Have patience when it comes to finding your friends and know that it’s okay to wait to make sure you’ve found people who love and support you for being you. That being said, say yes to as much as you can. If a neighbor asks you to go night monumenting, say yes! If a classmate asks to get coffee, say yes. Talk to strangers in TDR, talk to your classmates, act like you’ve known them for years! It eliminates a lot of the awkwardness that comes with making new friends. 

Selfie at the Dav

Can you share some suggestions for making friends and building a community? What worked for you? 

I was lucky to find a community of other first-gen students by working at the Dav. If there’s a piece of your story that’s really important to you, try to find students who share that experience. Sometimes it’s as simple as complimenting people on their shirt if you like that same band, or going to club meetings for student groups. But also, some of my closest friends are people who had completely different upbringings and interests than me. Keep an open mind! What really matters to me when finding a community is looking for honesty and similar worldviews — the rest doesn’t matter as much.

Heather Roselle

AU is filled with activities, events, and groups. How can incoming students begin to get involved? 

In a technical sense, go on Engage. But I would also say, start your own club! At the Dav, we encourage people to post flyers on the wall for student bands, performances, games, etc. If you’re looking for something that’s not there, be the first one to do it. 

What were some of your favorite memories from your first year at AU? 

My favorite memories from my first at AU scattered across the year, but the first five days of college were one of the best and weirdest experiences of my life. I don’t think I slept for more than eight total hours. Being from a super small town, it was amazing to suddenly be dropped into this new life. It felt like being at a race when the starter pistol suddenly goes off, but you’re still at the starting line tying your shoes. I mean that in the best way possible. To be specific, though, I think what I’ll always remember is seeing the faces of my friends for the first time. 

What are you looking forward to this upcoming year?

I’m looking forward to seeing the leaves change colors and to spending lots of time on the third floor of the library. I love it there. Truly, I adore college and just want to tell first-years to have so much fun and to know that everything is going to be fine.