Katrina Obieta, an Earl Woods Scholar, above left, is currently a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, an all-women's liberal arts school in Bryn Mawr, Pa. In her own words, she reflects on leaving home and her freshman year experience.
I love my school. That's something I will neither ever get tired of saying nor ever stop saying. After spending a whole school year at Bryn Mawr College, I can honestly say that I have never felt so at home, so far away from my actual home.
It seemed just yesterday that I was ready to move in, anxious at being so far away. It was a difficult task to do; I had never lived apart from my parents, apart from my family, apart from my twin. I needed to learn how to live on my own, how to make my own decisions, and know that although they were far away, my family will always support me. I was being asked to change from a teenager to an adult, in the span of a six-hour plane ride.
In the past year that I have spent in the luscious green hills and castle-like dorms of Bryn Mawr, I have made so many friendships that will last a lifetime, learned so much about myself, and have become a part of a great community of current and past students alike. Bryn Mawr takes great pride in its traditions -- events and small habits that have been in place since its establishment in 1885. There are four main traditions on campus: Parade Night, Lantern Night, Hell Week and May Day.
But try as I may to describe these traditions, it's never enough to make anyone fully understand how important they are, how much they mean to me or how they have changed me. They're more than silly traditions with silly names; these traditions and events make the Bryn Mawr community, make the home I have created three thousand miles away. Every day that I wake up, every tradition that occurs, I am reassured that I have come to the right place. Bryn Mawr is a place where everyone is welcome; where I am always welcome. It has this magical ability of making me feel at home, even when it's Thanksgiving Holiday and my parents are so far away. Words are never enough to describe just how incredible Bryn Mawr is; it's not a place to see, but an experience to be felt.
Now officially a sophomore, I am far from the person I was in August, yet still the same. With the impact of Bryn Mawr's traditions in mind, I embrace the freedom I am given, handle the responsibilities of being a student, an athlete and an employee with diligence and balance, and am comforted by the fact that the relationships I've left behind at home have only gotten stronger. I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin, to be comfortable with who I am and what I stand for. I have learned to seek help when needed -- something that high school was never able to do. I have learned that no matter where you go there will always be people to meet, people who care, people who want only the best for you. Gone are the fears of being alone, replaced by the most refreshing thought that no matter where I am -- Bryn Mawr or Buena Park, Calif. -- I will always be home.
I have come to learn so much about my school and about the community that makes it -- and I have never appreciated it more than I have now -- and learned so much about myself. For the past 126 years, Bryn Mawr has produced legions of great women, women who have created so much history and impact. And quite honestly, it still does. Bryn Mawr is more than just a place with "Palaces as Dorms," but a place I have come to call home. It used to scare me, the precedents that my peers before me have set, but I have never felt so proud to be a part of something so magnificent, and I cannot wait to make my own history as a Bryn Mawr woman.
Katrina is excited for this summer, when she will undergo an internship, secured by TWF, at the Raise Foundation.