Throughout high school, I never connected well with any of my peers. I had always felt I did not belong, but not because I did not get along with people or did not fit in, but rather because I always felt I was in a different point in my life than everyone else. It is a very difficult concept to explain in words, but I was dying to get out of the bubble of Rochester and experience new places, ideas, and lifestyles. When I had learned of the Leader Advancement Scholarship program at Central Michigan University, I became set on making it my new home.
Senior year when Dan Gaken called my home to tell me I was a recipient of the Leader Advancement Scholarship, I broke into tears because I felt all my handwork and focus had finally paid off and was recognized. Ever since becoming apart of this amazing program, my life has been blessed.
(Please note I do not wish to brag in these next few paragraphs but reflect on how much I have been able to achieve in this new experience)
My first year at CMU has offered me so many incredible opportunities to be challenged, grow, and find passions. I jumped on to several involvements and was eager to make the most of my freshman year. I became actively involved in Special Olympics by facilitating at the Unified Sports Leadership Launch, being apart of the Polar Plunge student committee, and volunteering at my first ever State Games. Along with this I can easily say I have volunteered for at least (but very often more than) one hour a week every week this year. I became involved in a program called Connections That Count, where I would spend time with Mount Pleasant community members with intellectual and physical disabilities. I also volunteered with the Lunch Buddies Program where I spent lunch and recess with my third grade buddy who has a difficult home life. Along with these two major commitments, I volunteered with random on campus and sorority opportunities. One of the greatest involvements I gained was when I became a member of Alpha Sigma Tau sorority in Fall of 2016. This opportunity has brought me to a group of women who I can relate to and rely on at all times. And I was able to go on a service trip over spring break with a group of sisters, allowing me to become closer to the chapter. Along with this, I became the chapter’s representative for Student Government Association, adding on to my commitment load.
While managing these weekly commitments, I was able to receive a 4.0 in my first semester of classes. This accomplishment is something I am most proud of and hope to be able to say I achieved my second semester. This is also why I was invited to apply for Track Two of the Honors Program at CMU. I applied and was accepted and will now be adding the Honors’ protocol to my workload.
I came to CMU with the intent to pursue a degree in Special Education. After my first semester of classes, I decided teaching was not for me. After exploring a bit second semester, I am so excited to have signed my intent to major in Communication Disorders.
But of all the involvements, volunteer opportunities, and successes, the greatest thing Central has brought to my life are the people. In which I would now like to thank:
My 311 Roommates: Thank you for breaking me out of my comfort zone. I have always been a very driven and focused person, but you helped me to break that mold a bit. You helped me to let myself let loose a little. You taught me its ok to be 18 and unsure and its ok to not always take life too seriously. Thank you for being the people I needed at that time.
Lucas Gustafson: I remember meeting you back at orientation last spring. You sat next to me and started telling me the most freaky stories about your hometown and all I was thinking was “who the heck is this kid and where did he come from”. Although you may drive me crazy at times, you are also one of the funniest and most laid back people I know. Thank you for all the times you listened to me vent about my problems, and made me relax a bit. Thank you for all your reassurance that you have given me and although second semester has been kind of whack, I truly do still mean it when I say you are one of the people I am most thankful for meeting this year.
My sisters in Alpha Sigma Tau: Thank you for seeing something in me and giving me a bid. Joining the Beta chapter has been one of the most rewarding things I have done my freshman year. Thank you for being a group of inspiring women who care for me and push me to be my absolute best. I am so blessed to be a part of a chapter of women who stick out in the Greek community because of the incredible accomplishments we achieve.
Garrett Ritterhaus: Although the first time I met you I called you fake, and I continue to call you fake, you are actually the realist person I know. Thank you for challenging me to think critically and take on new challenges. I really appreciate how much you have been there for me this year. Thank you for reminding me to always keep my head up, and thank you for the Menna’s.
Michelle McEllroy: Thank you for being you. Thank you for spending the entire day with me in the park and bringing so much positivity into my life. I love that someone is able to pose a threat to me being the best burp-er. And I love all the laughter and joy you bring into my life. Thank you for being my “mom” here at CMU. But really, you have shown me the true meaning of sisterhood and have helped me to grow so much from all the setbacks I have faced. I am so incredibly blessed to have you in my life and you have no idea of the impact you have made on me this year.
Abbey Claes: Thank you for being such a special person. Thank you for introducing me to your major, and then letting me then copy you and steal it. I am so happy to have found home in AST with you. Thank you for always calming me down and keeping me level headed. Thank you for walking everywhere with me. And most of all, thank you for helping me to be positive in every situation.
Ali Denman: Ever since I watched the video you made for me to reveal you were my mentor, you have brought so much joy into my life. Thank you for answering my 100000 questions and not getting annoyed with me. Thank you for not being afraid of the high ropes course and taking on every challenge with me, not only at retreat but throughout this year. When going throgh recruitment I was so emotional and scared that “the process” was not going to work for me. But when I was matched with you at AST’s preference party, I was entirely sure I had found my home. I am so happy we became Big and Little so we can continue to be a wild duo. (PS welcome to the fam mentee!)
To Fabiano 2017 first floor- Cassie, Vanessa, Makenna, Rose, Kristina, Lauren, Ashleigh: Thank you all for being FAB(ulous) people. You all have positively impacted my life this year and you have no idea how excited I am about living with/ by all of you next year. I know you will make my sophomore year amazing.
My 117 Roommates: You all have no clue how much you have impacted me this year. When I needed it the most, you graciously created a home for me in 117. Thank you for caring so much about me and helping me get through low points. Sadie, you are the sweetest person I have ever met. Thank you for not letting me drop out of school even though I try to everyday. And thank you for laughing at the low key stupid things I say. Jordan: Thank you for not taking offense to all the rude things I say to you. And thank you for keeping that onion I stole from the caf that one time. Nicole: you are crazy af. Thank you for always making me laugh and being such a good listener.
My entire cohort: Thank you all for being amazing friends. I have so many things I could say about each and every one of you. I am so happy I was able to create some sort of relationship with all of you. You all inspire me to be a better person and leader. You all display so many amazing qualities and are all capable of achieving the incredible dreams you have. Thank you for being the reason I chose to attend CMU and thank you for finally being a place I feel that I belong.
Matthew Pienta: Thank you for being my best friend in the whole world. Thank you for being there for me through thick and thin. I have not always been the easiest person to be with and you have helped me through so much. Thank you for pushing me towards my goals and helping me achieve them. Thank you for always making me laugh and reminding me why life is so great. Thank you for adventuring with me and reminding me what is truly important. I am so amazed by you everyday, thank you for making me want to be a better person.
My parents: Thank you for being my biggest supporters this whole year. Thank you for believing in me and helping me to be so successful my first year away from home. I know you guys think parents are not suppose to be their kids best friends, but you are two of mine. I am so lucky to have such a good relationship with both of you. And as much as I love Central, I am so excited to be back at home with you.
Overall this semester has been the greatest year of my life. I have felt excitement and passion, but also lost and alone. I learned it is ok to show weakness. While trying to be on top of things all the time I loss touch with myself. This year I began struggling with anxiety, and my OCD tendencies began to control me at times. With all this combined I did hit a rough patch at the beginning of second semester. It is probably one of the hardest things I have had to deal with, but has overall made me a happier person in the end. I am still working on self care. I have learned that to take care of others I must first take care of myself. But the greatest lesson I have learned through this whole year is best stated in a quote from the book Zen and the Art of Happiness: “Everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that could happen to me”. I have learned that you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude about it and what results from it. And I can say that Central Michigan University has made me immensely happy.