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!