Stories

Finding His Home

In this reflection, Milum Richardson looks back on his journey from transferring to UVA to finding a home at the Study Center. 

Milum Richardson
Photo by Jeff Dillenbeck.

When I came to Charlottesville as a transfer student in December of 2017, a home was something I dearly lacked. I hadn’t made friends during my first semester, and the only thing that gave any stability to my life was my school work. When I stumbled into the Study Center, I actually stumbled into a gateway to relationship (and many free meals). These relationships came chiefly from the outstanding staff at the Study Center. Over time, many of them became close friends and mentors. I also began to become acquainted with other students.

Nonetheless, my transition to UVA got worse before they became any better. Over my second semester, I fell into depression and extreme loneliness. At the same time, though, I could find a refuge in the Study Center. Day after day, I found the same people working together and caring for us students. Simply knowing that I could see the same friendly faces every weekday helped me greatly. What mattered more is that they cared for me as a person and tried to get to know me. No matter how much I clammed up or tried to keep my emotions in a bottle, these mentors would keep asking until I told them how I really felt and how life was really going for me. And then, whatever I had expressed or said remained safe with them. Because I come from a family that has always taught me to conceal my emotions, this was a really powerful thing. That people actually wanted to fully know how I felt, and that I could freely express emotion was something foreign yet relieving.

While I was building relationships with the Study Center staff and battling depression, I also found myself going to a copious amount of Bible studies. There is no use in telling what I learned over my time here. If I were to begin writing on it, I would never be able to stop, but suffice it to say that in one semester, I found myself ignoring my schoolwork on Fridays and attending five Study Center led Bible studies instead. I would definitely do it again, and I still attend Bible studies whenever I can.

Still, despite the Study Center’s efforts, I struggled with my depression my first year at UVA and continued to get worse. When my first year at UVA ended, I went back home ecstatic that I could leave Charlottesville behind me. Little did I know that I was jumping out of the frying pan and landing in the gasoline fueled bonfire beneath it. After one of the hardest summers I’ve ever known, I found myself actually glad to be back in Charlottesville, and especially glad to be back at the Study Center. Relationships with people deepened, and I found myself with a new family within a new home. Things began happening. I became an intern and now help keep the place running. People became like brothers, sisters, fathers, and crazy uncles to me. Through the Study Center, I learned that I can use my wounds to help heal others. Through all of the hardship, the Study Center was always present, and through it, I found God in every place. I may be a pilgrim, but I have a home.