By Amanda Wineman
Distinguished Young Woman of Montana for 2011
When I started looking for colleges, all I wanted was somewhere different. I had spent almost fifteen years with the same people doing the same things in the same way. I was left with two choices: the school three hours from home with some of the same people, or the school that requires three flights to get home with one person I barely knew. Stay in the frigid north or join the football obsessed south. No visit. No orientation. No idea. But I wanted change. I needed change. I came to Huntingdon College in the hope that I would experience new things. Through college I have found that four four letter words have changed not only my college experience by my life overall.
Be bold in all that you do. Get out of your comfort zone! Try something new! The first two weeks being at college I remained completely sheltered and stayed in my room. I saw a poster for rush week for sororities. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had to escape the misery that was building up from my solitude. I put some cute outfits together and went through rush week. I met several girls from the different sororities and forced myself not to be shy. I ended up pledging Chi Omega. Joining a sorority has definitely been one of the best decisions I have made whilst at college. There have been so many opportunities that I’ve been afforded through my sorority. Even though I’m scared of heights, I jumped off of a cliff-like rock at a sisterhood event. Being involved in a sorority has made me more fearless, more bold.
Find something you’re passionate about and take the lead! Find a community service project you want to be a part of and take the reigns! Get involved with the student government on campus. People will notice those who take a stand and lead a group of their peers to accomplish a common goal. Leading is the best way to learn, and that’s exactly what college is about. If being a leader isn’t something you’re used to, start small. I’ve never really been much of a leader, but I decided I wanted to change that, but I wasn’t sure where to start. I ended up becoming the treasurer of Freshman Forum, an event planning governmental organization specifically for the freshman class. It’s a small leadership role, but it will lead to more demanding leadership roles in my future.
I have had a couple boyfriends in my life, but I was never really known for being surrounded by guys. I was never the girlfriend, always the friend, and there was nothing wrong with that. It gave me time to focus on academics and excel in extracurricular activities. So I thought that I would continue this lifestyle, because I was pretty successful in college. I had planned on not dating in college. That seems rather unrealistic when you think about how college is generally a four year process, but it was my plan, and I took it very seriously. But that kind of went out the window pretty quick. I met a guy and the plan had to change. I changed my plan not for the guy; I changed the plan for me. He makes me happier than I can remember being. College is a stressful time, and honestly, life after college is going to be stressful too. So sometimes we have to find things, activities, or people that make life easier. I’m not saying that when you go to college your first stop should be a fraternity party in order to find “the one,” or that your sole purpose in college should be to find a boy and fall madly in love. I’m saying that if life hands you happiness and love on a silver platter, don’t turn it down! Being willing to change your plan is an important part of college. It’s the best change I’ve made.
I didn’t have many good friends in high school. There was no one who I felt extremely close to outside of my family. When I came to college, I prayed this would change. As always, God answered my prayers with a complicated reply. He gave me several new friends, but then left it up to me to realize which friends were worth keeping. You will meet a ton of people in college. There will be people who talk behind your back, and there will be people who you call friends. Make sure they’re not the same people. Find true friends. I’ve been blessed with a few girls who have changed my life. I was just fine before I met them, but now I can’t imagine my life without them.
College is a time to learn more about yourself and experience new things. These are the most important 4 letter words to me. They have affected my life in the best possible way. Hopefully it helps you in your life.
Amanda Wineman is a college freshman at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama majoring in Political Science with a minor in French. Originally from Cut Bank, Montana, Amanda was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Montana for 2011. Learn more about Amanda here!