How I Found My Home As A Niner

I finished my first week of college! How cool, right? It was a super busy week and truth be told, it’s not over yet!

My journey to get to this point started long before I could even apply for college. I was a little kid and I was watching all these people around me start talking about my college experience, paying for school, and even where I was going to go. I think for a long time, my family definitely thought I was going to stay where I have grown up my whole life and go to my grandpa’s alma mater – CU Boulder. While I love the campus and the mountains and being close to home, I always knew in my tiny heart that I wanted to go somewhere else.

My dream of California started brewing when I was a little girl. When I could finally figure out how to google things other than the ‘Crazy Frog’ or ‘The Gummy Bear Song’, I started looking at colleges, just thinking, exploring websites, and reading people’s experiences. UCLA became a front-runner and my dream shortly after my search began and my heart was stuck there up until my junior year of high school and the summer after.

When Morgan and I started dating, we both knew that her dream was to play lacrosse at the collegiate level, wherever that may be. So when she committed to play D1 ball at Wofford College in South Carolina, truthfully, it didn’t cross my mind that our dreams were across the country from each other.

By the time senior year rolled around, and it was time for me to start applying, Morgan and I had gotten pretty serious. We both knew that we were the one’s for each other, we wanted to spend our lives together and that whatever happened, we wanted to stay together. Well when I knew that I was applying to UCLA because it was my dream, CU Boulder as a safety, as well as the other CU campuses in Denver and Colorado Springs, one thing was missing. Her.

I started to look at schools on the east coast. I knew that we were going to be traveling to South Carolina in October for a prospective day for her lacrosse team so I wanted to look at some schools there. The University of South Carolina Upstate was the ideal school on paper. It was a 10 minute drive from Wofford, it had my major, and it was close to the girl I love. But when we went to visit, I was incredibly disappointed. I wanted more.

As a little girl, I always watched the dance team at CU Boulder games and I knew that I wanted to do something like that. I saw their face tattoos, their pom poms, I saw all the students so excited to be a Buff. I wanted to go to football games, basketball games, I wanted to have so much school spirit.

Upstate didn’t give me that. They don’t even have a football team and that was the deal breaker for me. I’ve always wanted to go to a college football game as a student, with my friends, faces painted, school colors on, ready for the night. That wasn’t something I ever wanted to sacrifice.

The University of South Carolina Columbia was my next option. We drove around the campus and while I wasn’t totally set, I told myself that if I ended up at this school, I wouldn’t be disappointed. The campus is beautiful, the pictures online were amazing, it had my major, it had a football team, it checked every box on my list. My heart just wasn’t in it. I knew that I could go there and I’m sure that I’d find happiness, but it wasn’t going to be there when I first arrived on campus.

At that point, I was disappointed and upset and frustrated and to be honest, I resented Morgan a little bit. I was upset that she chose a school without talking to me about it and I was sad that I couldn’t find one close that had my major and I could see myself at. I was mad at myself for even being upset at her in the first place because this was her dream! She had worked her whole life to get to this point and here I am, being upset and frustrated at her for following her dreams? How rude was I?! I wasn’t allowed to be upset, I thought. She committed to play lacrosse at such an early part of our relationship that we weren’t even sure we were going to last. She didn’t have to involve me in her decision. And looking back at it now, I’m glad she didn’t because I wouldn’t have ended up at the school of my dreams.

We flew home from South Carolina and I was not satisfied. I was scared that I was going to end up staying in Colorado, being over 1,000 miles away from the girl that I loved with every part of my body. I was laying in bed one night and I remember just thinking how stuck I was, how I wasn’t sure what was in store for me for the next school year, and how I absolutely hated that. I got to thinking, what about Charlotte? We flew in and out of there when we went to South Carolina. We spent a night in the city there and I loved it. I was totally in love with the vibe, the skyline, the area, I was infatuated. It wasn’t that far of a drive, what about the schools there?

And that’s when I found my home.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Home of the Niners.

A 1,000 acre campus with over 450 student organizations and clubs. A major in Criminal Justice and a long list of minors to choose from. A football team. School spirit. A GORGEOUS campus with so many trees, two ponds, a couple little manmade streams, two huge dining halls, over 29,000 students, and as far as I was concerned, my brand new home.

I chose this school solely based on courses, course descriptions, pictures, and all the information I could find online. I took one look at this campus, in my dark room, on my phone and I knew it. I knew it with every inch of my being, I hadn’t ever been this excited about a school. This was it.

I didn’t end up actually visiting and being on campus until I was at orientation. I got here and I was definitely overwhelmed. Whether that was from being up all night to take the red-eye and landing at 5 in the morning, or at the fact that this campus is so much bigger than I could’ve ever imagined, I’m not totally sure. But it was definitely a little scary.

But by the time the 2 day orientation was over, I was so set. I chose the right place. It was a good fit, and it wasn’t too far from my girl.

Fast forward to moving in and the almost 25 hour drive, it’s been a week since I got here, I’ve been to all my classes, met all my professors, made new friends, ate way too much food, got 5 free shirts, a free visor, pet dogs, ate a snowcone, a cake pop, and a popsicle, sang at karaoke night, went to a frat party, rushed the football field, been to the tenth floor of the library, saw a concert, and managed to finish all my homework early.

And I’m not done! Today I’m playing bingo to try to win an iPad and tomorrow is the Yard Show in the Star Quad and I am so excited!

In other words, I love college.

I’m so ready to take this journey to further my education, to get my degree, to pursue my dreams of becoming a real life Olivia Benson, Erin Lindsay, and Jennifer Jareau all rolled into one. I am the happiest I’ve been in so long and I love being a Niner.

It was really hard getting here. I wasn’t even sure I was going to college a week and a half ago because I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it. But by the grace of God, the generosity of good people, and a lot, and I mean a lot of crying, I’m here. I’m living my dream. My whole life has been me working to get to this point and I have never been more ready.

That’s not to say I’m not scared or a little stressed or nervous about how my classes are going to pan out, because I am all of those things and so much more. But first and foremost, I’m excited, I’m happy, and I’m ready for this journey to continue.

I want to thank everyone that’s helped me get to this point and who has contributed to motivating me to keep going. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my parents, my teachers, my close friends, my sister, the love of my life, and the people who care about me most. I am who I am because of all of you and while I’m doing this for myself, I’m also doing it for you. For those who couldn’t be where I am right now for various reasons, for those who have gone through college already and are guiding me through it. I’m doing it for the people still in high school, scared out of their minds, wondering if college truly is for them, and honestly, it might not be. But for me, this has been the best first week of school I’ve ever had, and I’m so excited for this year.

I have got a lot of Niner pride in me and I’m so excited to let it all out!

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