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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Friends and Fitting In

Four years ago, I stepped onto Emory’s campus as a freshman. I had no friends. No one from my hometown of Fair Lawn, NJ comes to Emory. In fact, I was one of the first students in so many years that when I was applying my guidance counselor looked at me funny when I said I wanted to go to Emory.

She thought I meant Embry-Riddle, the aeronautics school somewhere in the middle of nowhere. She even Googled Emory University to make sure I wasn’t making up a school (she was new).

Down south, I had no family because for the most part we’re northern people, and no one really roams much further down the coast than Virginia.

But five months later, my mom I moved all my stuff into Harris Hall. As soon as my mom left campus, my roommate bailed, and I was left all alone to twiddle my thumbs. I lay in my freshly made bed, and stared at the walls thinking, “I should have gone to Rutgers. At least there I’d have some friends.”

Things have changed, and now move-in never causes me the same anxiety or feeling of abandonment.

Four years after, I was left to fend for myself as a college student, it feels weird to be a senior and basically be done with my undergrad career. I’ve experienced so much at Emory, yet I feel like there is still so much more I want to experience before I graduate in May.

My Fame leader once said that you have 72 hours to make friends freshman year, and after that people aren’t very friendly. I can honestly say that most of the best and closest friends I’ve met at Emory were not made during that 72-hour window. So, to the froshies out there who feel like you’re stuck with your friend group…you’re not. Friends change. It’s a fact of life.

That isn’t to say I’m not friendly towards the first people I met at Emory. I am. But I have also discovered where I truly belong. A personal mantra that I strictly live by now is, “be who you were born to be and not who others want you to be because someone else can do that.”

I’m the oldest of four and have this tendency to forget that I’d be considered a role model in my family, especially since I’m all about making honest mistakes. Not to say I don’t strive to do the best that I can. I do.

But let’s face it: you can’t learn if you ALWAYS get everything right. But, I guess that’s why people look up to me. I don’t mind sharing my struggles and mistakes and talking about issues I’ve faced as an undergrad.

Just ask Liz, my EAA office neighbor from across the cube. I never have a problem telling her stories about all my many escapades because what’s the point in living if you can’t share and help someone else learn. Right?

--Cindy Okereke 12C, EAA communications assistant

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