Have you ever watched the series finale of an epic show like Friends or Sex & the City? When we sit down to watch that final episode, we all know it’s the end. We want clarity and appreciate the writers’ care in tying up loose ends. Especially when they allude to the fact that all of our characters are living happily ever after. Charlotte gets her baby. Carrie gets Mr. Big. Joey gets his own spinoff….
Well last night felt like a series finale. Little moments came in at just the right time and loose ends are beginning to tie off. Kerri has been in all of my big college moments because we have been best friends for four years. I mean, the biggest biggest fight we’ve ever had was over the fact that I didn’t like her Birkenstock shoes. (The Birks are a serious matter in Flagstaff.) Last night, we were sitting at our favorite frozen yogurt shop up in the loft during sunset and talking. Even though we didn’t say it during the time, we knew it was the very last time we would ever hang out together here in Flagstaff. Once we graduate, we are both moving to different cities (and states) and our hangouts would involve planning and travel.
Just like a movie moment, during the stress of finals week and graduation and packing up my apartment and moving out…..an amazing opportunity presented itself. A company and brand that I am very loyal to offered me the opportunity to write for their blog, with content aimed at college students. I don’t want to put any details because it’s still being worked out, but the opportunity gave me such excitement and even more validation. Graduating seniors need that little message that “someone will want you” and this was that for me. I shared my news with Kerri and she was equally excited.
Then she began talking about her travel plans. She has a fabulous trip abroad this summer all by herself. She was talking about the future with her boyfriend and eventually applying for medical school. It just seemed like everything was wrapping up so neatly when a few weeks ago they seemed to be barely hanging by a thread. Obviously once left the restaurant, we had to acknowledge the fact that we don’t know when we’ll see each other so there was a tearful goodbye hug. Cue the credits, aaaaand scene.
But I’ve digressed and now I’ll get back to the final installment of my favorite college memories. Junior year honestly doesn’t feel like that long ago, so it seems silly to “look back” on these memories as if they are in the distant past. Junior year, like any year, had ups and downs, highs and lows, but it began and ended with pure happiness.
On the first day of economics class, I picked the second row window seat. I sat there every day for the rest of the semester and the same guy sat in the seat next to me for the entire semester. We did our economics homework together, started dating not long after, visited each others’ families for winter break. Then he was arrested, I broke up with him, and I’m not even kidding. (All of this managed to escape the blog at the time but it sure is funny to think about now!) I’d like to say my standards are a litttttle higher now. ;)
In September I competed in my first cross country race during monsoon season in Flagstaff with my parents and my roommates cheering me on. The runner’s high is real.
During move-in weekend, The Maine performed an outdoor concert on campus (my third time seeing them live!) and my new roommates and I excitedly went shopping to decorate our new apartment together. This was the first time in college that I had my own room, something I will never take for granted again :)
This year was a whirlwind for sure, but one of the most significant decisions was to not compete in track and begin training for my first marathon. It was exciting to follow my own training plan after being coached for seven years. Racing my first marathon was the most rewarding experience, and I even surprised myself. I have incredible friends and family who all came to Phoenix to support me, and I finished with a Boston-qualifying time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. At that moment I knew that I made the right decision, mostly because accomplishing this huge goal of mine brought more joy than track ever did.
One of the most memorable classes will be Rap, Hip Hop & Criminal Justice. My roommate told me about the course and suggested we take it together, but then she dropped it and I was stuck by myself! The first thing the “professor” said when she walked in the class…. “I know what you all are thinking: Who is this white lady and what the hell is she going to teach us about hip hop?” The homework for the class involved watching music videos and reading lyrics. In class we watched Ice T’s documentary and blasted F#%& The Police…in the Criminology department. For educational purposes, of course. And yes, we wrote our own rap. Mine was called Afraid to be Average. Watch out, Nicki.
Speaking of gangsta….my roommates and I also threw our own ugly sweater party this year! It didn’t include a sweater contest but I’ll just go ahead and give myself the win on that one…. #homemade ;)
An academic highlight of this year was the opportunity to travel to Omaha, NE, representing my university’s business college to meet Mr. Warren Buffett and tour three of his companies. One of the strict guidelines was absolutely no alcohol on the trip. Our provost came to talk to us before we departed and said, “If you can’t go three days without a drink, you have a problem.”All twenty students laughed and nodded.
The first thing the group I was with said as we departed the charter bus unchaperoned: “Margarita Bar!” Cheers to Warren Buffett. ;)
After my marathon, I struggled a little bit about what to do next with my fitness goals…I tried the LiveFit trainer but the lack of running didn’t work for me. Mostly I found friends to go on many many hiking adventures with me. I hiked Devil’s bridge for the first time (and second, and third). I had TWO very memorable trips to the Grand Canyon and several Sedona adventures, alone and with friends.
This year I drastically cut my hair, finally brought my car up to Flagstaff, and turned 21. My friends and I went to Dustin Lynch, Kip Moore, and Ellie Goulding concerts on-campus (plus Eli Young Band in the summer if that counts!). I raced a charity 5k hosted by our school’s ROTC, and after I finished behind the top 10 ROTC boys the sergeant asked if I had ever considered joining the ROTC program. HA! Do your fatigues come in pink? Flattered but also laughing on the inside ;) I respect everyone who is in the program, it’s just probably not for me.
Junior year was the first time that I started to feel really independent. I absolutely loved my business courses (though a few less group projects would’ve been cool too). I met incredible people and even though some of my friends grew apart after I left the track team, others grew stronger and closer. I ended the year feeling really happy. I loved the people in my life and I was looking forward to a few more summer trips to New York to continue the medical procedures. And ready to be a SENIOR! :)That’s the jist of it. A thousand memories didn’t quite make it in these past three recap posts, but I gotta keep some things personal!
Today I graduate with honors from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a certificate in Promotions and Marketing Communications. In my time here, I was a D1 cross country and track athlete, sports marketing intern, and Student Health Advisory Committee member. I’m so proud to be a Lumberjack, forever grateful for my parents and thrilled to close this chapter on a wonderful four years in Flagstaff.
While I am eager and ready to move forward and leave my four fantastic years of college behind me, it would seem unnatural not to be a bit nostalgic about all of the incredible moments that Northern Arizona University has brought me. It’s where I finished off my teen years and kicked off my twenties. It’s where I made my dream of becoming a D1 collegiate athlete come true.
On Sunday evening, I learned that I would be graduating Summa Cum Laude. This is the highest Latin Honor indicating that my GPA is in the top 5% of the graduating business students. This honor was a little source of motivation going into finals week, because it validated that my hard work is being recognized. Like I’ve said, I’m not here to be “average.” To be recognized with this honor on my diploma and a cord to wear during the graduation ceremony is really special.
There have been many moments in the past six months that most seniors go through which are more stress-inducing than we’ve encountered in our twenty-two years before. Taking the GRE, applying to grad schools, making major life decisions like where to live and finding a job, for example. Factor in scheduling surgeries, training for a marathon, dealing with living situation issues, and coming to the realization that some of your best friends will no longer live in the same state is overwhelming for sure. But today I remembered that there were 3.5 years of incredible moments before this that should not be overlooked as I repeat how “ready” I am to graduate and leave. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective, in my case from my parents and teachers, to remind us that what we are going through is not as scary/stressful/dramatic as it seems in the moment.
So I started having my mandatory moment of nostalgia to appreciate the people and places that helped shape my college career. As I began writing this, the words and pictures and links just poured out. So to spare you from glazed-over eyes and a numb thumb from scrolling, I’ve broken the content up into a few posts to sprinkle throughout these final days. Let’s begin with freshman year, shall we?
2011: Freshman Year
I did not have a blog. Throughout the summer, as I followed the cross country training plan my new collegiate coach emailed me, I coordinated with my future roommate about dorm room decor. We had a black-white-and-red theme, and actually a more spacious room than I was expecting.
Looking back, I am proud that I completely immersed myself in the college experience. I lived in a dorm, ate in the dining halls, studied in the library, worked out in the campus rec center, became great friends with my teammates and other student athletes, attended the free Friday night movies in the on-campus theater, went rock climbing, volunteered at campus functions, and trained as a college athlete.
I painted my face and ran across the football field in the annual “Running of the Freshman” event at the first football game. We watched the homecoming parade downtown, toured the Halloween haunted house, built a snowman in my first time seeing snow, and rode a mechanical bull at the winter carnival. My cross country teammates also filled our weekends with team dinners, potlucks, a sketchy party, and a formal banquet. I even hosted some of the high school senior recruits. I took Zumba classes with friends from math class, and I became a Supplemental Instructor for my accounting professor during my second semester. This all meant I spent very little time in my dorm room, which is why I feel so happy about my first year of college.
I red-shirted my first cross country season, but I raced indoor track in the winter. My first-ever indoor 3,000 meter (just under 2 miles) race qualified me for the Big Sky Conference Championships where I raced the 5,000 meters. During outdoor track, I was so happy to be able to travel and race in Arizona, Utah, California, and again at Conference Championships in Bozeman, Montana. The traveling is one of the greatest perks of being a student-athlete, in my opinion.
Funny freshman year story: Cross Country boys are typically a quirky and entertaining bunch, and my teammates were no exception. During the last week of school, the boys’ team had planned a late-night boys-only “secret naked run.” (Why? I have no idea.) Their only downfall was that half of the boys’ team was dating half of the girls’ team. Inevitably, the girls’ team found out the details of their “secret” run. We planned a stealthy water balloon attack to add a little surprise to their run.
We dressed in black and sat in the dark and waited, unsure of what we were about to witness. Plot twist: the boys knew that we knew….and they had eggs. It turned into water balloon vs. eggs tag in forest. I ended the night with some yolk in my hair and memories that will last far longer than whatever I was supposed to be studying for finals.
Freshman year was a blur of making the most of my time, and trying to figure out how to live “on my own.” For someone who had never shared a room before, I’d say I definitely don’t miss community bathrooms and showering in flip flops. (I always felt like I was camping!)
And I suppose this is the perfect stop to pause. Stay tuned for Sophomore Year!