Going Big: Finding a sense of fulfillment in my post-grad life

Earlier in the year, as I approached my impending college graduation, I felt as if I had life figured out. I had a job offer from a great company, I was moving back to my hometown of Indianapolis; I knew which direction my life was headed in. However, there was a looming feeling I couldn’t shake: I wanted to find a way to make my post-grad life count. I wanted to do something that mattered. As cliche as it sounds, I wanted to find a way to make my life meaningful outside of my full-time job.


Posing with a sign as part of BBBSCI and Eli Lilly’s campaign in September to raise awareness of the organization

For these reasons, I decided to start volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (BBBSCI). This national, highly-respected organization pairs an adult and child together to form a mentor relationship. Since their beginnings in 1904, the organization has formed thousands of relationships that have been linked to higher graduation rates, academic achievements, positive family relationships and more.

From the moment I began the process, I couldn’t wait to get started. Though it was at times meticulous, stretching over the course of a few months, I knew I was joining a great organization. Following the interview process, BBBSCI formally accepted me into their program. This meant that I would attend “big sister” training and then I would be paired with a “little sister”.

One thing I love about BBBSCI is they actually take the time to pair bigs and littles together who will be compatible. They explained to me that this process can sometimes stretch another few months, depending on location, interests and other personality traits. For me, this meant waiting another 2 months before I was finally paired with my little sister.

When I got the call, I was beyond excited. After reading an in-depth description of my little sister, her family and other noteworthy items, I knew that BBBSCI had found the perfect match for me – I couldn’t wait to get started!

Olivia Allen- Sammi Coppedge

My little sister, Olivia, and I are during our match introduction (August 2017).

As a big sister in this program, we hold a number of responsibilities. We meet with our little sisters on a consistent basis each month, typically ranging from 2-4 outings. Each pair has several match goals and “thriving indicators”. During our outings, we do a number of different activities. Not only do we ensure they are fun (very important!) but we also want to make sure these activities help the little sister grow, as well as help the match grow in their mentor relationship. All pairs are also required to participate in one volunteer activity a year.

Not to mention, BBBSCI does a wonderful job at finding low-cost and unique opportunities for matches. Every month, we receive updates of activities and exclusive programming, as well as have access to hundreds of outing ideas on the “Big App”.

Though I’m still at the beginning of my journey with BBBSCI, I am so thankful I found such a meaningful and impactful organization to participate in. I’m looking forward to many more great years to come!



Dear (Future) Daughter: Here’s why I marched for you


Last week, I read a blog post called “Dear Daughter: Here’s why I didn’t march for you“. If you saw my Facebook post in reaction to it, then you’ll know I was immediately infuriated by such post. So, as a writer, what do I decide to do? Write a reaction to the post, of course.

I could say a lot of things about this post. I could go on and on about how infuriating it was to read all of the ways this women believes there is gender equality. I could discuss how my fury heightened when this author explained why she believes women are paid less than men. However, I won’t – because that is what my Facebook post was for. You see, for me this isn’t about politics, it’s about equality. It’s about equality for all women – for all people – to have the freedom to choose what they want to do, who they want to be and what they want to believe in, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, political party, socioeconomic status, etc.

So, instead of getting angry, I wrote a letter. Much like the author from the blog post did, I wrote a letter to my future daughter, but this time, explaining why I did march for her.

Dear (future) daughter, 

At this moment, it’s hard for me to imagine who you are. I don’t know what your name is, what you look like, or who you are. In fact, I’m just a 22-year-old who, when thinks of becoming a parent one day, struggles to imagine what that would even be like (and wonders how I will even manage to survive the pains of child birth). However, whoever you are or whoever you become, there are a few things that I want you to know.

Women are not equal. They say we are. They say we can do anything that a man can. They say that if we work hard, dream big and never quit, we’ll reach the same levels that any man can. But they aren’t right. Yes, women can vote. Yes, women can obtain a post-secondary education, secure a corporate-level job at a Fortune 500 company and even become the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. Women can even run for president – in fact, one did just a few months ago. But what they are missing is that women aren’t equal to men. 

You see, a woman only makes 80 cents on every dollar that a man makes. Only 4% of CEOS are female in the United States. We live in a world where, if a woman is raped, she is asked how much she had to drink that night, or how short her skirt is. But when a man rapes and is charged with the crime, his sentence is shortened because he has a “bright future” ahead of him (begging the question; did the woman he raped not have a future ahead of her?). We live in a world where more people would prefer voting for a male sex predator than a woman. 

Yes, we live in a world where women can “do anything we want” – unless it includes our bodies, of course. When we get angry, we are asked if we are on our periods, as if our feelings are not valid enough. When we look “nice”, we are asked if we did it for a man, as if we could never look this way for ourselves. When we choose to have children, we are told our “time off” (as if it is some vacation) may not be covered by our company, leaving us without pay and financial means to take care of our families.

Yet, being a woman is a privilege. I’ll teach you one day that not every person has that privilege. You may someday ask me why the girl in your class used to be a boy, and now wears dresses. I’ll teach you that every person is different, and that we can’t judge them for not being the same as us. You may ask why some people have two moms or two dads, but that you have one of each. I’ll tell you about that, too. I’ll teach you that being a woman is great because not everyone has the freedoms that you and I do.

I’ll teach you about all of the great women in history who have moved mountains and made great strides in equality. Of course, I’ll tell you about the Women’s March of 2017, the one where I was just a 22-year-old without a clue of what direction I was going to take my life in, but the time when I watched with amazement as millions of women around the world stood up for what is right. By the time you read this, I can only hope that the world is different. Maybe you’ll even ask what the word “feminist” is , and when I tell you, you’ll say: but isn’t everyone a feminist, Mom? 

You see, I was apart of the Women’s March movement, not because I, myself, face immense amounts of discrimination, inequality or disdain on a daily basis, but because other women do. I have insurance and can afford to see my doctors on a regular basis, so I may not be as heavily impacted if Planned Parenthood were to be defunded, but I can tell you that thousands of other women would be. I am a minority in that I am a woman, but not in my sexual orientation, race or religion. In those, I am about as “privileged” as they come, but not all women are. You see, society tells us that if we dress racy, we are “sluts”, but when Muslim women practice modesty, they are told they are terrorists. The bottom line is that some women may feel equal, but not all women are.

What I’m trying to say is that when I marched, I didn’t do it for myself, rather, I did it for all women. For future women. For past women. I marched for those who marched in 1920 for women’s voting rights. I marched for those women who marched in 1973 for the right to choose. I marched for the women who may march 20 years from now for reasons we don’t know yet. I marched not because I feel women have no rights, but because we don’t have full rights. I marched because I want all people of all different backgrounds to be equal. 

More importantly, I marched for you. I marched for my future daughter(s), so that one day, you don’t have to.

Why we must learn to love people different than us


For some odd reason, we humans don’t seem to like those different than us.

Perhaps it’s because we are afraid of the unfamiliar, or maybe that we are afraid of change. God knows how much we are all hate change.

Whatever it may be, we don’t like people different than us. However, this is something that, as a human race, we desperately need to change.

Looking back on the history of the world, minorities have always been persecuted. Those with a darker skin complexion were put to slavery for hundreds of years, and for no good reason other than the fact that they look a little different. Those of the Jewish faith were persecuted simply because they didn’t have the same religious beliefs as one single man. Women were restricted of basic human rights for a thousand years because they were perceived as the “weaker sex” to the only other sex out there.

But what we need to learn is that there will always be individuals who are not the same as us. It may be something trivial, like a different favorite color or movie, or maybe something more monumental like religious or political beliefs. In the case of the recent Orlando massacre, maybe it’s sexual orientation or lifestyle.

When you’re young, it’s sometimes difficult to go against the flow. You want to keep the peace and make others happy. Especially for a person like me, who can sometimes be more passive than aggressive, it’s hard to go against the status quo and be different than everyone else, in one way or another.

Yet, being different is what makes us individuals. Differences are what make the world an exciting and wonderful place to be in. While I haven’t traveled far, each place I have traveled is so full of differences and new experiences that make traveling great. The people I surround myself with vary in personalities, interests and backgrounds and are why I have more than one friend.

If everything and everyone in the world were the same, we would be living in a much different place.

Yet, people don’t seem to embrace the importance of differences, although it can be a wonderful thing. Surrounding yourself with people who are a little bit different than you are forces you to learn, grow and redefine your beliefs. Spending time with someone of an opposing viewpoint does not mean that you are compromising your own beliefs, rather, than you are understanding a different side of things. More than anything, it will only strengthen your own beliefs.

The way that I have always looked at it, if someone is different than you but is causing no harm or posing any immediate threats, then who cares? How do people who don’t believe in the same God as me affect my relationship with Him? How do people who love someone differently than I change who I love? And how do people with different interests than I change what I am passionate about?

The world is a wonderful and dynamic place, but right now, it is filled with so much violence and hatred. What we really need to focus on right now is love. We need to learn to love people who are different than us, not only for the sake of decent humanity, but in order to grow as individuals and to live peacefully alongside one another.

Dealing with Those Who Dislike You

Today, I read a quote that really resonated with me.

“The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being. It’s not a statement about you.”

Of course, I realize that not everyone you encounter in life is going to like you. Sometimes, it’s within reason. Maybe you hurt them, spoke an unkind word about them, or you simply do not get along. It could even be a feeling of mutual dislike between one another.

However, everyone once in awhile, we encounter another human being who just simply does not like us. It doesn’t matter how hard we try, how nice we are, or what we say to them. They simply do not like us.

I believe that this is one of the hardest things to cope with. I don’t think anyone likes hearing that someone dislikes them. It belittles us and makes us feel incompetent, unworthy, and insecure. It makes us question other relationships in our lives and we begin to reevaluate everything that we say and do.

Still, what another person thinks or says about us has very little to do with who we actually are as individuals. I think this is what resonated with me the most in the above quote. If someone speaks poorly about you, that’s on them. It has nothing to do with you. Typically, it is nothing more than a reflection of their underlying insecurity. After all, what would be the point of being so cruel to another person if you were confident in yourself?

“But I say  to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” -Matthew 5:44

Another quote that has always been a backbone to me is Matthew 5:44. I think that it is such a powerful Bible verse and quite frankly, sometimes unimaginable in today’s society. Loving people who hates you? That doesn’t seem right, with society’s obsession over revenge and whatnot. But it’s an important lesson. We should pray and wish for nothing but the best for those who dislike us, as there is not a worst thing you can have in your heart other than hate. I think that we can all agree that in times when we are so filled with rage and anger, it sometimes physically pains us. It definitely consumes us. And how much better is life when we are positive, happy, and filled with hope?

I have learned on this day that we will not always be able to please everyone. Along the way, we will run into people who only want to tear us down. The best thing that we can do is to remain confident in ourselves, and let those types of people continue with their hate, hoping that one day they will no longer feel the need to hurt others to make themselves feel better. The world is filled with so much hate, but I am going to focus on filling it with love.

Confession: I’m single but still love Valentine’s Day


I’ll be the first to admit that when I first saw Dairy Queen was offering a “Single’s Blizzard”, I immediately texted my girlfriends and lined up a date to eat the sweet treat. If you know me, you also know how I feel about ice cream. My summers typically consist of 4-5 ice cream trips a week. It’s sort of a problem. Still, this dessert enticed me because of it’s connection to all the other single, ice cream-loving people like me.

Lately, I have become a strong advocate in the “modern Valentine’s Day”, once that encompasses celebrating all types of love–including the love you have for your family, friends and of course, yourself. I still have a lot of love for the world around me and the people in it, regardless of what my current Facebook relationship status happens to be.

As it just so happens, Valentine’s Day happens to be one of my favorite days of the year. Maybe it’s just a made up holiday to entice consumers to spend more money, but I can’t help but love every single thing about it. I love all the chocolate, pink and red and the dozens of pretty flowers. I’m a sucker for consumer holidays.

On a deeper note, if you know me, you probably also know that I’m a big advocate for self-love and practicing high self-esteem. It might sound a little odd to say “practicing high self-esteem”, but I really think that you have to “practice” it. Self-esteem, to me, is completely psychological. You have to get yourself in that right mindset. I truly believe your life becomes infinitely better when you learn to love yourself (as Justin Bieber would say, also I might have made that bad joke in my last blog post as well).

So, put a note on your mirror reminding yourself that you’re beautiful and buy yourself a box of chocolates. No matter what your relationship status is, make sure the people around you know that you love them, too. Valentine’s Day only comes once a year, so enjoy it while you can instead of moping around in misery. So, Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, you know where to find me (at DQ).



Christmas with the Coppedge’s

Growing up, I always assumed that my family’s holiday traditions were the ways that all families celebrated the various holidays. Obviously, as I grew up, I began to realize the holiday traditions are unique to each family who creates them. For me, my family traditions have always been a way to make the holidays even more special.


Some of the Coppedge granddaughters on Christmas Eve 2010. Christmas Eve at my Aunt Pam’s and Uncle Jim’s is one of our family’s oldest traditions. From left to right: my sister, Allie, my cousin, Celeste, and my cousin, Sabrina.

Leading Up to Christmas

Once tradition the Coppedge’s always participate in during the weeks leading up to Christmas, is the Coppedge Women Christmas Lunch. Years ago, when my grandma first started the tradition, we all went to lunch at the L.S. Ayers Tea Room at the Indiana State Museum. After a few years of attending lunch there, we decided to switch up locations and have been ever since. Once aspect of this tradition that I really love is that it gives all of the Coppedge women an opportunity to come together without the craziness of Christmas and the presents, and to just enjoy each other’s company.

Since our family is fairly large, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to buy gifts for everyone on Christmas. So instead, on Thanksgiving, we each draw a name and that’s who we buy a Christmas present for. Something about this tradition that always makes me laugh is that for the past few years or so, my cousin Sabrina and I always rig the drawing so that we get each other!

Christmas Eve


The Coppedge’s always celebrate Christmas with each other on Christmas Eve. For as long as I can remember, we always celebrate at my Aunt Pam and Uncle Jim’s house. Since my Uncle Jim is Italian, naturally, our dinner is a complete Italian cuisine of homemade spaghetti and meat sauce, salad, and delicious bread. We all exchange the gifts we got for each other and spend the rest of the night celebrating Christmas.

Once we got home, my Grandma Jean always gives my siblings and I a pair of pajamas, which we wear to bed that night and have on when opening gifts on Christmas Eve. It is a sort of quirky tradition, but it one that I love and we have been doing for many, many years.


It started when we were younger. My mom always woke us up on Christmas morning, but instead of letting us go downstairs, she made us sit at the top of the steps until she turned on all the lights, got her coffee, and my parents were ready to go. We would then rush down the stairs with excitement to open our gifts (we’re a little groggier with this now). We always got one big gift from Santa, which sat by the fireplace. Now that we’re older and past our Santa phases, Santa gets my siblings and I each one big food present, mine usually being a big tin of popcorn.

One tradition that I specifically love is that each of us pick out our own wrapping paper each year and all of our gifts are wrapped in that paper. I always try and pick a different paper each year. Senior year of high school I had what I call my “pink Christmas”. Last year, it was the Grinch (my favorite character of all time).

While we’re opening presents, my mom always puts her Breakfast Casserole in the oven so that it’s ready by the time we are done opening presents. We don’t go anywhere on Christmas day, so it’s usually pretty relaxed. In the afternoon we always have appetizers for lunch, like summer sausage and spinach dip with Hawaiian bread. At night, we have our Christmas dinner, which consists of pretty traditional foods like ham, cheesy potatoes, and deviled eggs.

New Year’s Day

This is a tradition that I definitely look forward to all year: my grandma’s “good luck” New Year’s Day meal. Each year on January 1, we eat corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes, and carrots. Since we only eat this meal once a year, I usually cannot get enough of it. I cannot think of a better way to start off each year.



One week from today, families all across the country will be enjoying great food, great family, and great football. Hands down, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. Although Christmas is a close second, I think what I love most about Thanksgiving is the fact that it’s all about celebrating those around you and what you’re most thankful for without expecting anything in return. There are no presents, no page long wish lists, and no expectations. It’s simple. Enjoy the day with the people you enjoy most.

So, in honor of Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to thank some of the amazing friends in my life for all they do for me (in no specific order, they’re each too amazing, it’d be impossible to rank).



One thing I love most about my friendship with Abbie is how much fun we have together! A year of friendship with this sweet girl has felt like a lifetime. She never judges me for the crazy things I may do and is always down to go on an adventure. One of my favorite memories with Abbie was walking 2 miles in Florida at 6:30am just to buy donuts and watch the sun rise (which was a fail, we didn’t know you can’t see the sunrise from the side on Florida we were on). Still, that memory keeps me laughing! I’m so thankful for our friendship, Abbie!



How can I even begin to put into words how much I love having my partner in crime around? Although we’ve known each other for almost two years now, we only recently became close, but now I can’t imagine a day without her. We may text each other lyrics back and forth for hours, live for Tuesday night Mug Club, or cry uncontrollably, but I wouldn’t change that for the world. I love that I can just be myself around you and we can have deep conversations about anything. Forever grateful for you, Erica!



For fourteen years now, this girl has been by my side. I don’t know if I have ever been more grateful for any relationship! We always joke that someone could place us into a completely empty room and we would be able to talk for at least a few days. The funny thing is, that is completely true. I love that distance has had absolutely no affect on our friendship. You know me inside and out, and I will always be thankful that you chose to sit next to me on the bus that one day in first grade.



Junior year of high school (and an organization that we absolutely despised) brought us together so now I’m pretty sure mutual hatred forges the best of friends. It was nothing short of fate that we both ended up at Ball State in Sigma Kappa. You’re my forever roomie and I don’t think I could put up living with anyone other than you for two years straight (and one to come!). You’re my constant texting buddy and fill-in boyfriend. Life just wouldn’t be as fun without you (plus I would have no one to complain to). I love you a million times over and glad to know we will always be friends, no matter what life throws at us.



Two years ago, Allison helped tremendously to integrate me into Sigma Kappa and help me to be elected to the position of Panhellenic Delegate. I was so incredibly proud to follow in her footsteps. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, but Allison has always been there for me in college for the good and bad days. She’s seen me cry over stupid boys one too many times, but she helps me to always see the good parts of the bad. Even though we were born on the same exact day (yes, the same year, too) she will always be my big sister. Thank you for being you, Allison!



To the girl who always keeps my head on straight and refuses to let me be sad over anything, I am so extremely thankful that we have gotten closer this semester! Thank you for raising your hand first and practically jumping out of your seat to nominate me for President, thank you for ordering me pizza at 2am, and thank you for looking out for all of your friends. You are one of the strongest, most loving people I know. I’m so lucky to call you one of my close friends.

These are just 6 of the incredible people in my life, but I could name at least a few dozen more. Friendships are one of the most important things in my life, I would nowhere without you all!


Remembering Grandpa: The Disease that Took Him Away


My grandpa was always that person who would talk your ear off for hours about essentially nothing. He was a Korea/Vietnam veteran, and probably the most proud at that. Growing up, I couldn’t even tell you how many army stories he rambled on to me about. It wasn’t just me either. He would talk to anyone who would listen. I’ll never forget the time he ordered me and my cousins pizzas and then spent what felt like forever on the front porch telling the delivery man all about his war days. We used to joke that the poor guy probably got fired for taking too long with the delivery. Nonetheless, he was proud that he had fought for our country. It was an incredible honor for him to have served as Command Sargent Major, and I was always proud of him for that.

Looking back now, I wish I had spent more time listening to him tell these stories, no matter how boring they may have gotten. I wish as a teenager I had realized how limited my time with him was.

As only a sophomore in high school, he began to change. Slowly, dementia took the grandpa I knew away. He was no longer talkative and barely remembered who I was. Sometimes we would laugh at his forgetfulness, but for the most part, it was painful knowing that I would never get the man I knew back. Eventually, I began to adjust to his changes. He lived with Alzheimer’s for four years before passing away in March of 2015. When he passed away, I struggled with losing him because it had felt like I had lost him a long time ago. It was comforting knowing that he would now be reunited with my grandma and that he could finally go to a place where he didn’t have to suffer anymore.

One of the most difficult things about loving someone with Alzheimer’s is trying to remember them as the person they were before the disease. I have a lot of great memories with my grandpa. We spent countless summers camping in the trailer my grandparents owned. He taught me lots of things, like how to fish and throw a baseball. My grandma and him were married for 61 years, and I always admired them for that. He may be gone now, but that doesn’t mean we have to forget the amazing man that he was.

Every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is an awful, terrible disease. The hard part is, it takes your loved ones away from you years before they actually pass away. What I wouldn’t give to have those last four years back with the grandpa I remember. Or to have taken in every moment with him when I was younger. Although I won’t what took him away, for it now is a cause close to my heart. I will also choose to remember him as the man he was and not as the disease that changed him.

This year, as I walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Kokomo for the third year in a row with my Sigma Kappa sisters, I will be holding a purple flower, rather than a yellow one, signifying that my loved one with Alzheimer’s has passed away. In his memory, I hope to raise money for the walk. Please help me out by donating to my Walk to End Alz Page!

10 Things I Learned From the First Year of my Twenties

They say your twenties are some of the best years of your life. Granted, I haven’t yet completed my first full year of my twenties, but I’m pretty darn close. Throughout this past year, I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve accomplished, celebrated, and even made a few mistakes (I’m allowed to make mistakes, I still have nine years left in this decade!). So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. You are in charge of your future: Undoubtedly, this is one of the most important things I’ve learned in the past year. However, it’s also a difficult one to stomach since it somewhat contradicts some of my main beliefs. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. So, if that’s true, I shouldn’t have to really try or do anything, right? It’ll just happen the way it’s supposed to? Wrong. I believe that you alone are in charge of your future and determining the outcome. I think that if you want to make something happen, you must go out and do so. If you desire change, you must allow yourself to change. There will be times unexpected events and circumstances will be thrown you way, but if you deal with them in the right way, you can, too, change the outcome of the unfortunate. One of my all-time favorite quotes sums this up perfectly, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

2. Planning is okay, but so is spontaneity: As a die hard planner, it’s often difficult for me to be spontaneous. I prefer definite, thought out plans to spur of the moment adventures. However, spontaneity can be great, too. After all, some of the best things in life are completely unplanned! So, while I think it’s important to have a plan and strive for specific dreams and goals, I also believe it’s important to allow spontaneous and never-would-I-ever-do-that moments to occur.

3. Mistakes are great: Wait, what? Yep, I said it. Mistakes are great. We all make mistakes and it’s completely impossible to avoid a mishap or two. However, like I said in #1, it’s how you handle these mistakes that counts. You’ll never learn and grow as a person if you never allow yourself to mess up. How do you think some of the world’s greatest inventions were ever thought of? I can tell you, their inventors probably didn’t invent them on the first try. So if you make a mistake, try not to give yourself such a hard time. There really, truly is a next time.

4. Relationships aren’t easy: This is a big one for me. No matter if it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a family member, relationships aren’t easy. But they’re important, and arguably, necessary for human survival. Definitely necessary if you want to live a happy and satisfying life. What I’ve learned is that you have to really understand the person who you’re dealing with. Everyone expects different things from different relationships, have different traits, and different needs. You can’t expect a relationship to work if you don’t put in the necessary time and effort. Even when they’re not, you should be. I think you should always try to put in more effort in any relationship or friendship, and hopefully they’ll take note.

5. College isn’t the only great time in your life: I’ve spent the past two years fearing the next four. Although I’m only halfway done, I’m definitely not ready to graduate quite yet. Not only does the future continually scare me, but it sounds less fun. I spent so much of my childhood and teens looking forward to college that I think I have downplayed the rest of my life. Although I’m not there yet, I know there is still a lot of fun to be had in my life. Whether that be getting my first apartment, my first job, getting married, having kids, or whatever life throws at me, I know college isn’t the last destination.

6. Positivity isn’t inherent, it’s learned: Positivity isn’t something that is necessarily inherent, rather, it’s learned. It’s something that each of us have to strive for and works towards each and every day if we so choose it. Sure, we could wake up every day and have a negative outlook on the things happening to us, but where’s the happiness in that? Positive thinking really is powerful. You can place a positive spin on anything. However, like I said, it’s something we have to work towards. Whenever negativity occurs, it’s important to reframe your thoughts and see them in a more positive light.

7. …However, positivity isn’t necessarily ignorance:  I’ve also learned that having a positive state of mind doesn’t mean you’re ignorant. Some people, especially pessimists, see optimists as ignorant and believe that being negative is more “realistic”. I don’t believe this at all. Just because you look for the good in the world and strive to be happy doesn’t mean you aren’t realistic. It just means you are simply looking for the good in life, rather than the bad. You still know that bad things happen, however, you are choosing to focus on the good things.

8. Settling isn’t worth it: By far, this is a mindset that will probably play a big part in my future. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, I’m talking about everything. If you’re not happy with someone, something, anything, why would you allow it to stay in your life? Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you should stay at it. Sometimes, taking the easy road doesn’t mean you’re taking the best road. Do what makes you happy.

9. Value what you have: This is another really big thing I’ve learned in the past year. Oftentimes, it’s easier to wish you were someone else doing something different. However, you aren’t. So don’t waste your time on that. Also, value the people in your life. In the past two years, I’ve lost two of my grandparents. Of course, I knew they wouldn’t live forever. However, I never thought I would lose both of them in a matter of 16 months. Sadly, you never know what the future holds, so value those you have today.

10. Be true to yourself: Finally, a very cliche lesson learned. It’s true, though. You can’t make everyone happy and you never will. So changing to meet someone else’s needs, or trying to be different for the sake of impressing another person just isn’t worth it. If you are your true self, the right people will be in your life, you’ll be happier, and you’ll probably accomplish some of your dreams while you’re at it, too.

The Perks of Being an Orientation Leader

Almost exactly two years ago, I sat through Ball State Orientation as an incoming freshman. I was ecstatic to say the least, but I wasn’t sure what all the future would hold for me. Anytime you start a new chapter in your life like that, you have hopes and expectations of what that chapter will look like, but you can never be quite sure of what your future will be.

Fast forward six months ago. I was at the first round interviews for Orientation Leader. There were so many people, awesome and super qualified people, who were also going out for the same job. With a limited number of positions, I decided I was going to try my hardest to get the job, but I wouldn’t plan for it. As I kept getting further and further along in the process, my chances were getting greater. Still, I didn’t want to jinx it. I was so anxious to find out whether or not I got the job. I checked my mailbox everyday for a week in hopes that the letter would come early, I even had my roommates checking it for me. Finally, it came. I got the job.


My acceptance letter for the position of Orientation Leader. The long wait was definitely worth it.

Now fast forward to May. During the two week break between classes ending and Orientation training beginning, I was so antsy and excited to get started. During our training we focused on team building, case studies, and learning pretty much everything there was to know about the university. Throughout training, I sometimes doubted myself. Compared to some of the other leaders, I was quieter and more reserved. I questioned whether or not I would be able to perform to the fullest. But with the encouragement of those around me, I reminded myself that I was hired for a reason. I couldn’t wait until June 1 when we got our first students.


The Orientation leaders with President Ferguson and the First Lady during Orientation training.

Right from the start of Orientation, everything seemed to fall into its place naturally. I found that I had no reason to be nervous for the things I was nervous about. Without those fears, I could enjoy Orientation to the fullest. I quickly found that the job was unlike any other I had ever had, and that it truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

With one of my groups of students during the second week of Orientation. Interacting with the incoming freshmen is definitely one of the best parts of being an Orientation Leader.

With one of my groups of students during the second week of Orientation. Interacting with the incoming freshmen is definitely one of the best parts of being an Orientation Leader.

Of course, one of the perks of being an Orientation Leader is working with the incoming freshmen. I love being able to tell them about how great Ball State is and easing their fears about college. It’s the little interactions with the students that really make the job worthwhile. Whether that be a student coming up to me after closing ceremony and thanking me for everything over the past two days, or the joy a student has when they come up to me after scheduling and say they are taking a class I recommended. I even had a student come up to me after lunch on Day 1 earlier this week and tell me I was doing a really great job.

With my team and the family team before starting a new session one week.

With my team and the family team before starting a new session one week.

The amazing leaders I get to work with everyday are also another perk about this job. From the start of training, we all quickly bonded together. I love having the opportunity to work with some of the best leaders around campus and forming friendships I know will last long after Orientation ends. We all have so much fun together and without all of them, Orientation wouldn’t be the same.

As we close week three today, I am sad to see that we are halfway done with Orientation now. With only a few sessions left, it’s hard to believe that soon enough this amazing experience will be done for the summer. To all my friends and family outside of Orientation, I’m sorry it’s the only thing I’ve been able to talk about for the past month. And to all of my Twitter and Instagram followers, I’m sorry it’s the only thing I’ve posted or tweeted about. But in all reality, I’m not sorry because Orientation has been an incredible journey so far and I’m so thankful I got this opportunity.