By Alex Grady
Distinguished Young Woman of Iowa for 2014
You step onto the Quad for your first day of class. You have your schedule in your hand and you’re trying hard not to be “that freshman” as you check your campus map to find out where your first class is. Campus looks like a foreign place with so many unfamiliar faces. Everyone seems to already know each other for some reason, smiling and hugging on the Quad after a long summer apart. You take a moment to look around and question if you’ve made the right choice in colleges. You try to clear that thought out of your head and make your trek to your first class.
That was me on my first day of college. I moved 12 hours away to attend the University of Alabama, and I can honestly tell you that my first day of class was the scariest day of my life. I had just gotten into a sorority and barely knew anyone from that. I walked alone on my first day of class and for some reason it felt like everyone around me knew each other, while I was alone. None of my friends from high school came to the University with me, and in that moment before my class started I felt truly alone. College is a scary step to take, no matter where you go. I had been warned about that, but I never really believed people when they said that.
Oh my, how my experience has changed. In that first week I questioned my choice to move so far away, but now I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve made some of the best friends that I could ask for and I’ve had so many great experiences that I never would have been able to have if I had stayed in Iowa for college. Moving has made me a stronger person in so many different ways. It’s tested me, pushed me to come out of my shell, and allowed me to become more open minded. We learned the word niche in my Human Development class – basically it’s a position particularlysuitable for the person occupying it. I’ve found my niche here, a place where I can truly be happy and excited about my next steps in life.
When you’re touring colleges, I challenge you to go out of your comfort zone and go to that college you’ve always dreamed of going to. No matter how far away it is. They say that when you tour your future college you will truly feel at home. You can see yourself walking around to class and making memories there. It sounds so cheesy, I know because that’s exactly what I thought when I first heard that, but it couldn’t be more right. You will feel at home at the college that you’re supposed to go to. Who cares if it’s 10 minutes away or 12 hours, if it’s where you’re supposed to be, you’ll end up there. It’s going to be scary no matter what – college is a scary transition – but you’ll find your niche. Don’t stress about your decision, and for goodness sake, don’t let anyone else make the decision for you. It’s your life and your four years, your memories and your future. No one can control that decision for you, make it for yourself, and remember: College is the best 4 years of your life!
Alex Grady is a college freshman at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Early Childhood Education. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Alex was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Iowa for 2014. Learn more about Alex here!