Looking back on the year


And with that last Canvas submission I have completed my junior year of my undergraduate career. Recently I have been really, really scared. “The real world” is right around the corner, and I have very little confidence in the direction my life is headed. But on top of being scared, I have also been thinking a lot about how amazing this past year has been. A lot of things happened. Some were good, some bad – some amazing.

If you’ve ever read my blog posts or seen my Facebook or talked to me for more than like 20 seconds, I have most likely talked about Camp Kesem in some way or another. Have I tried to get you to donate? Probably. I am rounding out my second year as a Development Coordinator for Camp Kesem at UofM this summer, and it has been a wild and rewarding ride. As of last weekend, we have raised over $100,000 for camp this summer. That is almost all of our 210 campers, and it’s only April.

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I’ve met truly met my people through this organization. Like classic Grey’s Anatomy “my person” type of person, except there’s several of them and I cannot be more thankful that I have these incredible humans to travel the rest of my crazy life journey with by my side.

We’ve had our up’s and down’s this year. There were so many successes that came along with their fair share of failures. There were tears. There was laughter. There was love and loss – but I wouldn’t choose anyone else to go through all of this with. I know for sure that no matter where I end up after graduation next May, I will always look back on this incredible group of people as my people and the most inspiring and loving human beings. Thank you for teaching me what I am worth. Thank you for loving me and teaching me how to love.

I really began to find my passions this year. I served as a group leader for a course called Project Outreach in the Psychology department where I spent my second semester in a row going to Monroe County Youth Center every week to lead art workshops for the juveniles in detention there. From this course, I received an internship with the Washtenaw County Juvenile Court and spent this past semester helping to start a creative arts workshop for the juveniles on probation in this county as well as working alongside probation officers in the sexual offender treatment program at the court. I can really see myself doing this kind of work for the rest of my life, and that is the most confident I have ever felt in anything about my career probably ever.

In addition to all of this, I have traveled to some pretty amazing places this year. I spent a month traveling around Europe with two of my best friends. We visited 9 different countries in less than 29 days, and it was absolutely incredible. We had a bonfire in a valley town in the Swiss Alps. We swam in the Italian Riviera in the most picturesque coastline towns in Italy. We picnicked with wine and baguette sandwiches under the lights of the Eiffel Tower. We casually saw the Queen and the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. We learned how to make sangria and Paella in Barcelona. It was the most amazing month, and I still talk about it almost every day.

I spent a pretty awesome week on a cruise with my family and my grandparents in the Caribbean. We zip lined over a water park in Costa Maya. We swam with dolphins in Cozumel. My dad, sister and I spent a way too long day shopping in Belize City. I practiced my Spanish to perfection after snorkeling all day in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the largest Barrier Reef system in the world)!

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I took a cross-country road trip with my best friend and showed her everything from my home state. We ate so much food our stomachs were in so much pain. We drank hurricanes on Bourbon Street and Cajun danced our hearts away.

I could go on and on about the incredible things I’ve done this year, but most importantly, I have made new friends and traveled the world and learned to cope with loss and grow from it. I have learned so much about my abilities, my passions and myself as a person. I look forward to my summer – an internship at a really awesome Detroit-based organization and traveling the state with my friends. Cheers to another year of learning and loving and exploring!

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On CK Love and Family


I haven’t written on here in a while, but that’s because my summer was crazy, and the last three weeks were the busiest weeks of my life. I took a nice family vacation to San Francisco where I was able to see a ton of stuff I’d never seen before, and then immediately drove down to Orlando, Florida for a vacation with my friends and an awesome Harry Potter convention called LeakyCon. At LeakyCon, I had the incredible opportunity of attending a private event in the new Diagon Alley park at Universal Studios, which was absolutely amazing. Walking around Diagon Alley with only 1500 other people was incredible. I may have cried a few times on the Hogwarts Express, but it was just all so magical. Being there with my best friends was everything I could have dreamed of and more.

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(this post isn’t about LeakyCon at all, but I had to mention it)

After returning from LeakyCon, I had one day in my bed with my dog then turned around and drove up to Ann Arbor to start my next year at the University of Michigan. To start off my next year up here, I spent a week in Fenton, Michigan serving as a camp counselor for Camp Kesem. Camp Kesem is a non-profit organization that provides a week-long summer camp to children whose parents have or have had cancer. (Links to more info about the camp below) This is an often over-looked group in terms of need, and Camp Kesem takes the time to make their lives special, too.

Almost a year ago from now, I attended a mass meeting for Camp Kesem, because the students at the booth at Festifall were really enthusiastic and it seemed like an awesome program that I related to on such a personal level. At the mass meeting (and subsequent meetings) I knew absolutely no one and usually just sat in the back not talking to anyone. I spent the year fundraising, and eventually assisting in planning programs for the week(s) of camp. So bright and early on Saturday morning, I woke up, threw my stuff in the car, and started driving to Fenton. Halfway there, I realized I forgot my pillow which had my blankets and towels in it. So stopping somewhere between Ann Arbor and Flint at a random Kohl’s I bought brand new pillows and towels. Random road bump aside, I finally arrived at camp extremely confused and already tired and slightly sick with absolutely no idea of what to expect.

Flash forward a few hours and I was in a room with 20+ people who were accepting me into their family without even knowing me. It was insane, and I loved it. They were so welcoming and passionate about what we were doing. Now, I could go through every single mushy detail of every single day of camp, but I’m not going to do that.

So long story short(er), by Tuesday night, our unit was sitting in a circle at our cabin chat, crying and comforting each other in our most vulnerable moments and I realized just how inspired and amazed I was by these kids and by the counselors. In just a few days, I had experienced more love than I had ever experienced in my entire life, and it was from people I had just met. Despite everything these people had been through, they knew how to love more perfectly than anyone else. It was a different kind of love. It was an unconditional everything-in-it kind of love. It was a love that I didn’t know that I needed, but when I felt it, I realized that it was about all that I needed.

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If more places in the world were like Camp Kesem, this world would be a much better place. So, thank you to all the counselors, campers and staff. This week changed the way I see myself and the way that I see the world. You will inspire me every single day to be a better person and to share myself with the people around me. To the black unit, you guys are absolutely amazing and inspiring. Y’all are strong and beautiful people who have truly changed me. To my overflow cabin girls, thank you for staying up and talking about camp until the wee hours of the morning (but let’s be honest, we never stayed up past 1 because there were no kids in our cabin). So much CK love to each and every one of you and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family. Until next year! Ay-ay-bo-diddly-STOP.

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(that’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? Sorry not sorry).

If interested in learning more about Camp Kesem, go here.

If interested in donating to Camp Kesem, use this link!

On New Friends


This morning, I was in an interview for a position as a camp counselor for this upcoming August. The camp is put on by a nonprofit organization that reaches out to kids whose parents have or have had cancer. This is the only nonprofit organization that exists to help this specific community. I was immediately intrigued by this group when I saw their table at Festifall back in September, considering that I was actually included in the group that they were helping. I knew that something like this camp was something that my little sister would have loved to go to. It was a different kind of service and one that perfectly fit my experiences and interests.

So in this interview this morning, I was just thinking the entire time about how much I wanted to get this position. I wanted to do something with the bad experiences I had to help other kids going though the same stuff. After all the questions I sort of expected, my interviewer asked something that caught me a little off guard. “What has been your favorite part of college so far?” I didn’t even know how to answer at first. I was only a freshman. What did I have to say for myself about college? After a few seconds of thinking it sort of struck me. “The people. I never would have met any of the incredible people that I’ve met if I hadn’t decided to come here.” The interviewer and I got into a great conversation about everything we are thankful for about choosing to come here instead of staying in our home states.

Moving thousands of miles from my family and friends was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about my college experience so far. (Except maybe taking that dumb class I hated last semester). Coming here to a place where I knew no one was terrifying, but through that fear, I met some of the most amazing people ever. I thank God everyday for the fact that I have two roommates who I actually get along with. I feel so blessed that I can come home after a long day and have two people to just talk to and laugh with. Or cry with. Lots of people don’t have that with their roommates, but I feel so grateful that the three of us work so well together (Well, you know…most of the time). [[They are literally never going to shut up about me writing about them so I am just going to make it known that I will never live this down.]]

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I forced myself to join clubs when I moved here. I found communities that I would never have found anywhere else. Who knew that there were 50+ Michigan students who just happened to like Nerdfighting as much I did? Who knew that joining a sports team would actually be something I would do in college? (hahahhahaahaaha just kidding I’m the photographer of the Quidditch team. Don’t worry. I still can’t actually play a sport). Out of some crazy string of events, I became best friends with two amazing girls and we started a club on our own here? I still don’t really believe that that’s a thing.

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(I’m not even in this picture, but I took it, so that counts. #Team1.5)

The people I’ve met and interacted with here have completely changed my outlook on life. It’s really crazy to try to imagine what my life would be like if I had decided to attend college somewhere else. So thank you to all of the awesome people I’ve met here. You’ve made moving across the country a heck of a lot easier and so much more rewarding. You’re all awesome.

DFTBA UM

Don’t Forget to be Awesome.

On Moving Away


Moving away from family and friends is terribly hard and incredibly humbling. During my senior year of high school, I applied to eight different schools and I remember receiving the letters from all of them inviting me to study with them. After visiting Ann Arbor in February of 2013, I knew that I wanted to live here. It was new and different. It was beautiful and perfect. Shortly after returning home from my visit, I decided that the University of Michigan was where I wanted to be. It was a crazy decision. I would be moving to a state I had only been to once. I would be living with two girls who I had met on Twitter. I would be leaving behind everything familiar and everyone I loved. Most importantly, I would be moving away from Community Coffee, gumbo and SEC Football. (What even is the Big Ten?)

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The culture in Michigan was completely different than what I had grown up around for the past 18 years. Most of the people I meet have no idea how to peel a crawfish or what to do when it’s hurricane season. The number of times I have had to explain how and why drive-thru daiquiri places are somehow legal where I live is exponential. I remember one of my first nights in Ann Arbor, a girl I was talking to at a party said “Oh my gosh. You just said y’all. That is SO cute.” I knew immediately that I was in a completely different world. There have been a countless number of times that I have had to explain that, contrary to popular belief, there are lots of cities in Louisiana other than New Orleans, and that I actually don’t really live near it. The first time I heard a Michigander refer to Coke or soda as “pop” I think I almost cried. I still refuse to eat the “gumbo” and “po-boys” that the dining halls attempt to make for dinner. And don’t even get me started on the snow.

I miss Louisiana every single day, but living here has been life-changing. After that first visit last February, Ann Arbor has held a special place in my heart. I can remember being here during my first week, walking down East Liberty and seeing Michigan Theater in all of its beauty and thinking “Wow, I have GOT to Instagram this,” but also more sentimental thoughts like, “Wow. I cannot believe that I actually live here.” This perfect little town continues to amaze me and I fall more and more in love every day that I’m here. Sometimes I think about how I got here, and what made me finally decide to leave the familiarity of Lafayette. I think back on my last week there in August and how I had such a strange mix of emotions that I don’t think I even cried about leaving. I was excited and terrified, but also sad and so very happy all at once. Being in a new city all alone forced me to humble myself to ask for directions or even just ask for help. Living on a campus where I knew no one forced me to join clubs and to go out and socialize. Doing that allowed me to meet people from different states and even different countries. I’ve met some of the best people in the world here, and despite how much I complain about just wanting a Turtle Mochasippi (extra shot and whipped cream please) and an entire King Cake to myself, I would not trade the experiences I am having here for anything in the world.

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So if I am trying to make a moral out of this story, it would be: just DO it. If you are considering it, DO it. If you want to study in a different state or a different country for a semester, DO it. If you want to use your spring break to go somewhere new, DO it. Life is short (no matter how cliché that saying is), and there is so much to see and experience before it’s over. I know you’ll miss home. You’ll miss familiar faces and you’ll miss your mom’s good food every night (Mom, please send me red beans and rice), but you will never regret doing something different and learning something new. Home will always be there for you when you want to come back, but the world is just waiting for you to venture out and experience it.

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“It may be the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.” – Jalai ad-Din Rumi