Posts Tagged friends

Tadpoles in the Sea

seanna-85I got my first camera when I was around twelve, but I’d been fascinated with photography and “capturing life” long before unwrapping that Kodak Easy Share.  My mom threatened to stop making Walgreens’ trips to develop the photos if I didn’t stop snapping shots of trees, dirt, spiders, and the left side of her nose.  I loved taking the ordinary and flip-flopping it every which way until it couldn’t be recognized.   Change interested me.  Variation caught my eye.  Transformations were absolutely captivating.

Sophomore year flashed by.  There was actually very little that remained similar to my first year, besides the best friend.  Classes and professors were different (obviously), the friend circle widened and fluctuated, the clubs & organizations that I was involved in narrowed and solidified.  This was my Round 2, and because I’d managed to firmly plant my feet during Round 1, I was able to look beyond myself and take more notice of the Pomona community.  I started critically thinking about campus climate & diversity, problems that impede residential life, and adjustments that might help facilitate improvements for future years.  But back to the idea of transformations.  Butterflies seem too cliché, so let’s assume that I’m in the process of becoming a frog.  Last year, I was a larvae.  I managed to overcome the dangers of bigger fish, sickness, and weather catastrophes (also known as bad grades, homesickness, and earthquakes), and I made it to tadpole stage. 

As a tadpole, I helped mentor larvae throughout the year, serving as a resource during confusion or hard times.  I learned more about our environment (lake or Pomona…wherever you’d like to go with this analogy) in order to answer questions and help avoid disasters.  I monitored my behaviors, while still being myself, to help set a positive and thriving example.  As junior year approaches, I’m moving into the awkward pre-frog, huge-tadpole phase.  I’m one of the Head Sponsors for the Pomona College Sponsor Program (first-year academic & mentor support program), and I’ll have an entire group of larvae & tadpoles in my building.   Together, we’ll set a tone and establish a smaller residential community that will aim towards having an exciting, safe, and productive year.  Looking back, this year has helped me realize how much college is truly about new experiences & change.  Every year, a group of frogs leave & a horde of larvae arrive.  Each class has its own personality just as each academic year is drastically unique, and yet, the four years will accrue into “MY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE”.  Whether you end up a butterfly, frog, newt, or crustacean, this metamorphosis is life-altering.  Pay attention to the details and appreciate the people and opportunities that happen your way. 

I can drive myself to Walgreens now, and I’ve moved on to a Nikon Digital Camera, but nature still astounds me and I still prefer a little switching up every now and then.  And just to keep the tradition, I send Mama images of snails and lizards through picture messages. 

Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”—Unknown


leah-85Don’t let the title confused. I’m not going to ramble off about a blanket. I want to talk about someone who will comfort you through the good, bad and ugly.

In college there are going to be times where you studied your brains out for an exam or you put lots of hours into a paper and the result is something you weren’t expecting. Disappointment. Failure. Rejection. Sometimes it can seem unbearable. But you really need someone to hear your story and say they understand. You will need someone to give you a big hug. This is where friends really come in handy. They are there to eat your food, distract you but most importantly to comfort you. I’m so thankful for my friends. But, I can say I really am getting my strength from God. He really understands what I need. So, for my religious readers check out Ps. 119:76 for this final push as a senior or even when you’re starting your freshmen year!

Rejection and Heartbreak: College Acceptances

jenny-85I’m not usually a crier. I don’t like people seeing me cry. It’s just not me, you know? I mean, I cried when Ash died in Pokemon: The First Movie, but it wasn’t the same as having your eyes water in the computer lab with strangers all around as you read the rejection letter from Stanford. Oh yes. Random people patted me on the back and offered me tissues. Kind of them, yes, but oh so embarrassing for me.

Yep, rejection hurts. But those other fancy paper letters in the mail with the special seals on them made the pain a little less. I mean, yeah, they’re not my dream school, but many other colleges wanted me too! Bright side: it’s not the end of the world! (Yet.) I know the rejection probably broke your heart, but we just have to get up and get over it. There are many other fish, I mean colleges, out there, some of whom think you’re just awesome and they’d love to have you as a student.

My choices were very different from one another. Amherst College and UC Davis. They’re on different coasts, have dramatically different weather, and one’s within reasonable driving distance to my family. To my many relatives and friends, the choice was already made: Davis. Approximately 2 hours away, and I could go home, be with my friends and all that. But then there was Amherst College. Far away, cold, no home cooking. My aunt’s exact words? “How are you going to live without us???” Actually, just fine, albeit very homesick.

My final choice was Amherst College. Why? *Ahem* Financial aid. *Ahem* Exploration. Independence. I felt like I needed to grow, so what better choice than to simply move on out of my comfort zone? And it also helps that New York and Boston are both a bus ride away.

Just think about your options. Where are you going to be happy? Where are you going to enjoy learning? For many of us, this is the first big choice we’re going to make. Choose what seems right. Flip a coin. (I’M KIDDING!)

Putting a Face on Success

abigail-85Winter terms at Dartmouth (8-9 weeks) are said to be the worst time to be on campus and by week 6, I was drained and wanted nothing more than to leave. Many of my friends went to Miami or Cancun for two weeks, but I knew I had to see my family and surround myself with their positive, cheerful energy.

While I was home, my high school counselor and English teacher invited me to speak to their students about campus life, schoolwork, traveling, extracurricular activities, old and new friendships, my future plans, and everything in between. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into but because I am forever grateful to both of them, I obliged. They told me that I would talk to a group of sophomores in the morning but oddly enough, that was not the case.

Instead of staying for an hour, I ended up staying the whole day at Sparks High. After the first group of students, one group after another came in and asked me to talk to them, and so it went on until the dismissal bell rang. Questions came at me from left and right, questions that I had never asked myself. One student asked me if I always knew that I would attend college, another student asked me what would I have done had I not enrolled at Dartmouth, and another student asked me if I believed that she or any of her classmates could one day be in my position.

It took me a few minutes to answer these questions and I figured that the students’ probably realized that I was not prepared with notes (like I should have). But afterwards, my teacher told me that many of the students said that they loved talking to me and wondered if I could stay a bit longer to discuss their individual college plans. She told me that while I may have been nervous, the students didn’t catch any of it because “success needs a face.”

Some first-generation college students leave their homes with dreams to “make it big” and regularly going back to their hometown may not fit in the lifestyle they have imagined for myself. It is a pity that those people will never realize that they could “make it big” by making a big impact on budding first-generation college students. There is an incredible amount of talent and potential in schools that are constantly labeled as “failing” and, if you have had the opportunity to attend college, it is crucial that you go back to them and show them that a college degree is possible.

Remember your roots, remember your responsibility.

The Thrill Of It


Greetings CSO family,

I know it has been awhile since my last post but trust me when I say that it was not due to apathy. The first half of this semester has been packed with pledging for my fraternity (Beta Theta Pi) and a rigorous course load. Nevertheless I am still committed to delivering some insightful pieces of knowledge to all of you who are in the midst of finalizing any college decisions.

Now that acceptance letters have been sent out, I constantly see parents and students walking throughout the campus. As they pass by I see them gaze and admire Miami’s Georgian architecture while a tour guide gives context on the rich history of our institution. With every group, I can’t help but smile because I see a bit of myself in all of those students. There is a sense of anticipation for what is yet to come, but at the same time there is also fear of what is yet to come. When I was a senior I was looking forward to something new outside the rigid structure of high school, even though that very setting gave me a comforting sense of consistency. I knew in high school how each day would unfold. My entire high school career was typical and to some extent I became accustomed to this repetition. The idea of being thrown into a whole new environment with new friends, professors and coursework is daunting yet in retrospect I am glad to have had the experience without any preconceived notions.

I knew I enjoyed politics and government. I knew I had a passion for my community. Therefore I started from there and I explored what this campus could do to help me fulfill my passions. Fast forward a semester and half what was the result? I joined greek life, I made a whole host of diverse friends who share my values and I have made significant moves towards my career objective.

Sometimes when I speak with students it’s hard to articulate everything in my Miami experience because I can’t transfer an entire semester and half of experiences upon an individual. No matter what I say, you will not be able to predict what your college experience will be like. You might think that business is your field of interest today but come next spring you might be a political science major. Who knows?! It is the thrill of the unknown that makes the experience all the more gratifying.

Phantom Limb

seanna-85Imagine sitting at the kitchen table every night, head bent over bills, trying to make pennies stretch into places where dollar bills are necessary…

…Working fifty hours a week behind a desk, then returning to work five more hours each night, cooking…cleaning…ironing…reviewing eighth grade Math, English & Science…

…Walking in circles for a few hours…lost & disoriented…unsure of where you are, where you were going, and where you are now supposed to be…

…Your hand being unable to open that ketchup bottle…water bottle…jar of jelly…too weak to twist off that “easy-open” cap…

…Inserting shots into your stomach every two weeks to maintain consciousness, trying to find a spot that isn’t too sore from the last shot & isn’t too tough from the 60+ shots that came before…


You’re imagining my mom.


Imagine running from the bus to your house, running from bullies who grab you right before you make it to the door, throw down your bag and jump you…

…Sitting in class every day, frustrated by the endless numbers and words that jump out from the lifeless pages of your textbook, your uncertainty developing into embarrassment…

…Waiting for hours for your father to show up with that game he promised, only to find out that he wasn’t able to stretch his check that far…maybe next month…

…Burning inside with energy and anger that you can’t explain, can’t contain, and can’t shake…emotions that need to find their way out, but remain trapped inside…

…Struggling with teenage thoughts, hormones, & doubts…trying to find your way in a world where kids are cruel, teachers don’t listen, and Mom is on her own & stressed…


You’re imagining my little brother.


Imagine loving the opportunities that are presented at your college, embracing the friends, classes, teachers & new activities…

…Waking up each day with your own agenda, going to sleep at night with a list of things “To-Do” the next day…all seeming as urgent & important as yesterday’s…

…Being thankful that you’ve been blessed with so much, financial aid, Office of Black Student Affairs, mentors…knowledge…

…Picking up the phone to hear about how hectic your mom’s day has been…why your brother got suspended yet again, and how the car broke down on the interstate…AGAIN…

…Knowing that you can’t be there to beat up those bullies, iron his shirt, or open that ketchup bottle…

…Imagine 1,794 miles…


Now, you’re imagining me.


Growing up, I was my mom’s right hand.  I helped her before she realized she needed assistance.  I played with my brother, relishing in my role as his sister.  The six years between us made me more like a second mother than a big sister.  When I decided to go to school so far away from home, leaving family behind was the hardest decision.  I was still only a phone call away, but I was also $600 and at least 7 hours from home. 

My advice to those of you who are considering college out-of-state: GO FOR IT.  Weigh your options carefully, but the next four years of your life will be a time of growth, change, and adjustment.  Although I did get homesick my first year, and I hate hearing about the problems my brother & mom go through, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Pomona for anywhere else.  Learning to balance my life away from home with the one I had before & will have after graduation has helped me learn how to stay in contact with those that I care about & vice versa. 

You don’t lose your family or close friends by moving outside state lines.  In fact, those who are most important will remain with you, even if the communication style changes.  It also helps that my mom and brother are fully supportive of my decision, and that other students at school, including my best friend, traveled far from home, as well.  There will be up’s and down’s, but I know that looking back, I will appreciate the risk I took & the sacrifices that everyone dear to me made for these four years.  

I text my mom every morning & tell her good night, every evening…so even though I am not there physically, I’m still her right hand…and I’m still willing to go above and beyond as her daughter & as Thurm’s big sister…

“The distance is nothing…it is only the first step that is difficult…” (Madame Marie du Deffand)

College Choice and Homesickness

jenny-85Everyone congratulates you when you get accepted somewhere. Yay! Great! You got in! Whoo-hoo! But no one tells you that now…you must CHOOSE. It might not be hard for some. I mean, community college…or Harvard. Or maybe you had a college you were already set on. Great.

For me, I was only concerned with UC Davis and Amherst College. At first, I thought “UC Davis all the way!” It was convenient, close to home. My cousins went there. Mom and Dad wanted me nearby. And to someone who loved family above all else, Davis was going to be my choice. All my friends from elementary school and middle school were going to be there. I had it all planned out. It was going to be great!

One night, I thought about it. Did I really want to be in a big school and be just another number? Did I want to go somewhere and explore a bit? Be more independent? Those thoughts landed me in Amherst College. When I told my dad I wanted to go to Amherst, Dad didn’t talk to me for the whole evening. He just went on about his business, lost in thought. He almost walked into the door and then looked around to see if anyone was watching. I saw, but didn’t say anything, just chuckled to myself. I felt as if I needed to grow up, and then come back as a capable, independent person so I could take care of my family. He was not going to sway me from my decision.

Later that night, he gave me his awkward one-armed hug, and said, “You can do whatever you want. It’s your choice.” Translation of awkward daddy talk: I approve.

It’s hard being away from home. Food. FOOD! I’m sorry, but even professional chefs have nothing on my mom’s home cooking. I miss my friends. I mean, these are kids I shared candy with in 3rd grade. Sometimes, I see professors and their little children running about, and I immediately think of my little nine year old brother, and how I’d give anything to hug him right then and there. And then I pretend something flew in my eye when my friends ask why I’m crying.

To all of you considering going to school far away, there’s Facebook (Yes, I know, it’s a procrastinator magnet.). There’s video chat, email, phones. There’s something called mail. I know that they’re poor substitutes for the real thing, but I’m dealing with it too. Homesickness gets better with time. Trust me, once the work settles in, WHOO, you won’t have time to SLEEP! You’ll be fine.

Soon as exams are over, I’m flying home. And then run into the kitchen and demand that Mom make me a bowl of pho.

Miss you.

leah-85“Off to college, yes you went away, straight from high school you up and left.” I think Aliayah, the famous singer, said it in her song titled Miss You.

You definitely will miss your high school friends. I do! Although we promised to connect with each other daily, we learned promises aren’t always kept. It’s hard getting in touch with my high school friends. First we are all busy with adjusting to school, but, more importantly, I realized that whenever I contacted them I neglected the friends I made at college and I feel like I’m grasping onto the past. It’s hard to transition to new types of people because you have to create a new bond and all those old insiders with your high school friends don’t apply. So, when you are laughing by yourself about a squirrel in a trash can everyone is looking at you like you are crazy.

Honestly, I am afraid of losing my high school friends. They are such special individuals and I feel like we all connect in a perfect way. They really became apart of my family. I don’t ever want college to get between us, which is why I try to keep up with facebook posts, weekly calls, and anything else in between. Some people do fade away though and some friendships sadly have expiration dates, but I don’t think that will ever happen to the relationships I have with high school buddies.

Snowboarding is like College!

jesse-85There’s this huge snowstorm going on in Boston right now and it reminded me of snowboarding for the first time in Denver. If you want to see how it went and how snowboarding is like college, check out this video!