By Theo Evans
According to its website, Sewanee devotes itself “to the development of the whole person.” Freshmen arriving at this place that so often far from home and vastly more demanding upon your time, energy, and academic ability, such development might seem an insurmountable challenge. Fortunately, there is PRE. PRE gives each student that attends it a vision of whom he or she will become during his or her time at Sewanee.
First, freshmen arrive at PRE to a horde of strangely dressed upperclassmen on the lawn of Elliot Hall. This horde seizes the bewildered and overwhelmed newcomers in an uproar of “FRESHMEN” followed by a swift run through a tunnel of painted and tattooed bodies at the end of which a pair of upperclassmen “parents” introduce themselves. My first memories of Sewanee will always be the benevolent smile of my PRE mother, the air of mischief radiating from my PRE father, and the general feeling of utter giddiness. Then, about nine other equally confused and giddy creatures arrive and suddenly you are no longer a lone freshman amid a mass of strangers. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles surround you; that is when you know you have found your place.
Then comes a series of challenges: you are asked to climb a wall using nothing but friendship and your own determination, crawl through a pitch-black hole with chest-deep freezing water, and walk miles through the Tennessee wilderness because at the end there’s a beautiful mountain lake, an underground waterfall, and the strength to accomplish anything. Finally, when the days of PRE end and the schoolwork begins, you suddenly find yourself sitting in a class next to part of your PRE family. In that moment you realize that the bonds of family from PRE never die. Your family will be your family for all four years of your time here. Your PRE parent might give you his or her gown when they graduate. You will work on projects with your brothers and sisters. Your aunt or uncle might be an important connection to the sorority or fraternity you want to join. You can find your place for a semester or two with FYP, or you can get a PRE-view of the rest of your life at Sewanee.