Well it’s official folks. I made it through my first semester of college. It wasn’t always pretty, but I’ve learned a lot and I’m so happy Mizzou is my school. I’ve met so many incredible people and made friends I hope will continue to be in my life long past the time we graduate.
I chose Mizzou because it has the best journalism program in the country, and when I visited the campus it felt more like home than any other school I visited. I could really see myself spending four years of my life there. Of course, both of those things made moving 10 hours away from Mansfield only slightly easier. It was still terrifying.
One of the things I’ve learned since being in college is that not everyone has the same support system that I’m fortunate to have. As I mentioned in mi familia, my immediate family is pretty darn close to perfect. I don’t think I fully realized how lucky I am to have the relationships that I do with my parents and brother until I got to college and realized that very few people can go on and on about how amazing their younger brother is.
But it’s not just my parents and Nick. I’ve had a whole tribe of people help me get to this point in my life, and I couldn’t have done it without them.
For instance, my grandparents are phenomenal. My Grandma and Poppa moved from Houston and my Nana moved from Georgia before my brother was born so they could be closer to us. I honestly can’t remember a time when my parents had to hire a babysitter when I was little, because my grandparents were always so willing to watch us. Anytime I had a dance recital or track meet or awards ceremony they were there. And for a lot of those things I wasn’t ever that good. I literally got last place in every single track meet I ran in in middle school, and every time I had at least one grandparent in the stands cheering me on. I was spoiled with ice cream and thoughtful Christmas presents. My Nana took me on a two-week trip to Italy for my 15thbirthday. But the thing I value the most is that they are there for me. They have made me and my brother a priority and have made sure that we know it. I am so lucky.
Then there’s my church family. I’ve talked about Melony Harmon before in My Faith Story, and two years later she continues to be just as amazing. My senior year of high school the girl’s small group got another leader- Beth Mallory. This woman is a saint who I’m blessed to have in my life. Even though she hasn’t been in my life for too too long, she makes me feel like I’ve known her for forever. She’s crafty and kind and she makes the yummiest treats.
During my time volunteering with children’s ministries I was fortunate to get to know Andrea Roberts, Michelle Gery, Victoria Johnson and Jenny Williams. Andrea was there for me my junior year of high school when I came to church on the verge of tears after a friend’s birthday party did not go well. Michelle texted me a few times throughout the semester just checking in to make sure I was doing okay. Victoria had all of the Ignite kiddos pray for me the weekend before I left for college. I think about that sweet prayer a lot. And Jenny always gives really good hugs.
The Capstone class of 2019 sent me a finals care package that had snacks and notes from friends to encourage me to get through the last week. Everyone from that program is fantastic. Darin Charles continues to take time out of his busy life to host get-togethers with Capstone grads when we’re home for breaks. And I don’t know whose idea it was to give us study Bibles for graduation, but that Bible is now one of my favorite possessions.
I have the best neighbors a girl could ever ask for. When we moved to Mansfield the summer before I entered the 6thgrade I had no idea how much having really good neighbors could mean to a person. Whenever I was home alone it was always a source of comfort to know that if something went wrong I had at least ten people nearby who would be willing to help me out. I’ve spent countless hours on driveways, around firepits and in swimming pools having the time of my life. Whenever our parents all get together all of us neighbor kids who are around the same age share in each other’s pain in how embarrassing our parents can be. The second I get home I know I’m probably going to see at least three people out on someone’s driveway who will want to know how college is going, because we are all genuinely invested in each other’s lives.
When I was little, my parents were part of an adult Sunday School class called the Pathfinders. It was a class full of couples who were around my parents age who also had kids. Even though a lot of the families (including mine), now go to different churches, we’re still close to several of the families. Two of those families are the Luna’s and Trezza’s. The Luna’s have three girls who are all younger than me, but who are growing up so stinking fast. I’ve always thought of them as my little sisters, and one of the reasons why I try so hard is because I know they are looking up to me. Both the Trezza’s and the Luna’s still live pretty close to my family, and I know that if I ever need anything, I can always call them.
Finally, I’ve been blessed with the best teachers all throughout my education. They’ve encouraged me to read, to ask questions and to want to continue to learn- even beyond the classroom. One of the things I did before I graduated from high school was I tracked down as many of my former teachers as I could on social media and messaged them so I could send them a graduation announcement. I was able to go back as far as my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Urias. Especially in elementary school I think teachers get a lot of appreciation from parents, but not so much from the kids. I wanted all of my teachers to know that even 10+ years later I appreciated them, because for a year of my life they taught me what I needed to know so I could move on to my next step. I wouldn’t have gotten to 12thgrade without 1stgrade and I wouldn’t have gotten into college without all of my incredible teachers.
There are a few teachers that I’ve kept in touch with more than others. My 6thgrade year was a big one because it was my first year at Mansfield. I was the new kid and having teachers like Mrs. Giadrosich and Mrs. Crose made the transition so much easier. Mrs. Giadrosich had her first baby during my year, so I feel like I have the unique opportunity to really watch her kids grow up. I had Mrs. Boydstun for both my freshman and senior year for English. That woman is a superwoman. The amount that she cares for her students and their futures is immeasurable. Mrs. Watson and Ms. Rooney both made me a stronger writer and helped to give me more journalism opportunities. I’m fortunate to have been their student.
A few days ago, while my friends and I were struggling through studying for finals, my friends started talking about how out of all of us they view me as the most “put together” one of the group. I found this shocking, because I most certainly do not feel like it. At this point in my life I feel like I’m being held together by my planner and a prayer. I’m apparently really good at BSing that I have my shit together.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize the reason why I’m able to fake having my shit together is because I have that whole group of people I just mentioned cheering me on. They’ve all done everything they can, each in their individual ways, to set me up to succeed. I want to do them and myself proud, but I also know that if I stumble along the way as I figure this whole adulting thing out, they will be there to help me get back on my path.
I chose Mizzou because my parents and grandparents were always supportive. Because my church family prepared me to continue to explore my faith no matter how far away from home I am. Because my neighbors remind me I need to also have fun. Because I have the Luna girls looking up to me, so I have no choice but to do my absolute best. Because my teachers set me up for success from the very beginning.
There is a football player that plays for Mizzou named Jalen Knox. He’s a freshman who went to Timberview High School, which is another high school in my school district. We’re both from Mansfield, and we both chose to go to Mizzou, albeit for very different reasons. It makes me wonder what his tribe looks like, and how it led him to choose Mizzou. I like to imagine that we’re both thriving because we both had tribes that prepared us for this step in our lives. Because my tribe did a pretty good job.