This year I attended the fourth largest university by enrollment in the United States, and while the classroom learning is phenomenal the lessons I learned outside the classroom were equally important. Even at the end of the year I felt as if I was meeting or connecting with a new person every day (I thought remembering names at nationals was hard, but at least we had name tags there!) and the hundreds of people it seems that I have met have all taught me a little something; the following are the ones that stuck with me the most.
With the exception of my roommate, Branden was one of my first dear friends at college; he was also one of the first people to figure me out. I think I had known him a week when he told me with complete confidence that I was going to be an engineer some day. I of course scoffed at this, but he just laughed and said that I would eventually figure it out. Branden had confidence in my abilities before I did and I owe him my future career in biomedical engineering for that.
Laura, my dear neighbor for my entire freshman year, is one of the most personable people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing or even meeting. This is a girl who can start up a conversation with anyone, lighten the mood of any room, and fill at least a quarter of our approximately 700 occupant building with her laughter. To her I owe many hours of talking and a lighter heart that has an increased appreciation and awareness for spending precious time with family and friends.
Ericka, Laura’s roommate and another one of my dear friends has taught me probably much more than she knows. Besides being one of the funniest people I have ever met, she is also one of the strongest and most humble. She cares so much for her family, especially her younger siblings and has inspired me to be a better and stronger role model for my own.
Nick, is a friend that I met through Laura as well, and despite what we thought was a personality clash that made us complete opposites; he and I are so much alike in our work ethic it was quite shocking when it was first brought to my attention. Our competitiveness was heightened when we shared a class second semester and I must say that I most likely would not have cared about that class as much as I did, had he not been in it. I owe him a wonderful lesson in patience and a solidified belief that hard work does pay off.
Mary is without a doubt the most wonderfully outgoing person I have ever met. She is not afraid in any way of what others might think of her and has a knack for making a room full of people die with laughter. She has taught me how to laugh a little harder and hug a lot tighter.
John will argue against me until the day he dies, but he truly is the most caring person I have yet to meet. He has the biggest heart for everyone he meets and probably knows at least a quarter of the undergraduate population (or at least it feels like it). He has taught me that you should be grateful every second of every day for the people in your life and you should not be afraid to tell them so.
Joseph, my first friend as an admissions ambassador(tour-guide), is a person whose hugs and smiles could brighten the day of the saddest person in the world. I secretly hope that I will see him around campus so I can yell his name and be welcomed by one of his famous hugs (not joking- everyone knows him for his hugs). He has taught me to always keep a smile on my face because you never know whose day it may brighten.
Margo, is the type of person who despite having just met her you feel like you have known her forever. She is a wonderful listener and I look forward to many long talks with her in the future.
Last but certainly not least, Shelby has been my roommate and best friend throughout this year. She is one of the most hard-working people I know and she has a great heart and sense of humor to match. I cannot list the number of things she has taught me because it would go on forever; but if there is one thing that she has taught me the most it is that a true friend will stand by your side no matter what the circumstances.
Unfortunately, most of the people reading this will not have the opportunity to meet these people, however I would like everyone to take a moment to appreciate the Branden or Shelby in their life. To those of you young women heading off to college in the fall, it may seem like the scariest thing in the world, especially if you are going somewhere where you will know little to nobody but there are so many wonderful people out there and they have so much to teach you whether they mean to or not. I am grateful that I have three years left to learn more from those that have already touched my life and from those who I have yet to encounter. Thank you all!
Julia Carlson is a college freshman at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota majoring in Biology with a minor in Management. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Julia was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Nebraska for 2012. Learn more about Julia here!