When I graduated high school and spent the summer preparing for my freshman year at Miami University, my friends and family all encouraged me that college would bring so many wonderful experiences, opportunities, and memories.  Looking back at my time at Miami, those key people in my life were right; I have grown and learned so much, both in and out of the classroom during my time here. But what I quickly discovered is that experiences are shaped not by the events themselves, but rather, the people who are there to share them with you. 

So, in the midst of thousands of peers at your college or university, how do you find your “people”?

To start, have an open mind when you move into the dorms. I met three or my best friends on move in day; we quickly realized we all aligned in our values, thrived on being busy, and were extremely dedicated to our schoolwork. Three years later, even if we don’t see each other all the time, we can pick up right where we left off each time we catch up.

Secondly, don’t knock something until you try it. My university is known for its heavy involvement in Greek life, but I was on the fence about rushing until literally the last day to sign up. Two overloaded weeks in February 2017 all paid off when I put on my Chi Omega t-shirt in Millett Hall, knowing I just made one of the best decisions of my college career.  Though I barely knew anyone in the chapter, I could feel the empowering, uplifting energy of this group of women and knew that a lot of good things were about to come. And good things did come; I found a great group of friends in my pledge class that make me laugh harder than I ever thought possible and all inspire me to dream big and work harder each day.

Lastly, understand your “people” don’t have to be limited to just your peers. Balancing work, a social life, and higher level coursework is challenging. There were times when I questioned if my major was the right choice, timidly attended career advising appointments and professor office hours for advice, and challenged myself to embrace opportunities to expand my college experience beyond something that just benefitted myself. It was my career center advisor and professors that have encouraged me every step of the way, providing advice and guidance, to help me carve my own path.

I share these anecdotes of my life as a college student because we all have the ability to recognize and cherish the power of community in our lives, no matter what age, occupation, major, or hometown. My wish for all of those preparing to begin their collegiate careers is to challenge oneself to step outside of their comfort zone and engage in an abundance of fascinating and uplifting experiences; it is in these opportunities that you will discover your chosen family.

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