My parents were the first in their families to graduate from college. Although they hoped for us to go to college, they never made a big deal of it. What I mean to say is that they never said we had to go to college; but they did make a big deal out of what college was for and what it would do for us and our lives. They laid the framework and as a result I never had any doubt that I wanted to go to college.
Since I attended an all-girls college preparatory school, there was quite a lot of discussion about college and universities. At that time I wasn't really interested in leaving the west coast, so I applied to several private, Catholic colleges in California, Oregon and Washington, plus UC Berkeley. I also applied to Stanford on a wish and a prayer since it was my grandma's dream to have a grandkid go to Stanford and she threw out that she would pay for college if I got accepted. Ya, that didn't happen.
I was home alone one evening in December of 1999 when I received my first acceptance letter from Gonzaga University. I cried. It made college feel real. I was going to college.
In the end my choices came down to Gonzaga, University of San Francisco, University of San Diego and Santa Clara. I loved every one of those schools, but in the end I ended up at the University of San Diego. The Toreros.
I started at USD in the fall of 2000. I declared Political Science as my major and moved into the dorms. I had chosen Theology and Religious Studies as my minor, but very soon into my courses I fell in love with that field and chose to double major in Poly Sci and Religion.
In my first week of school I started working for Banquets and Catering, a job that I worked at until the day I graduated. That job defined a lot of my experience at USD. I made many lifelong friends working in B&C. I also had amazing opportunities in that job. As a server and supervisor in that job I was blessed with the chance to attend many special events at USD. I served dinner to Jimmy Carter and Jenny Craig. I served a private breakfast to Supreme Court Justice Scalia. I regularly served in the home of the University president.
In addition to working at Banquets and Catering, I chose to work for The Vista, the USD student newspaper. As a freshman I was a staff writer. My sophomore year I was a page editor. My first senior year I was the Opinion editor and my second senior year I was the Managing editor.
I thrived at USD. I made lifelong friends. I learned lifelong lessons. I had the opportunity to live in Spain (story forthcoming). I believe that attending university made me a better critical thinker and challenged me to be a life-long learner. USD gave me the chance to grow in my faith and in myself as a person. In it is a time in my life that I am grateful for. Most of all I am grateful to my parents for knowing that it would help me grow and prepare me for my life. I am thankful that their experience was valuable enough to them that they made whatever sacrifices necessary to send me and my siblings to college.
In one short blog post I can't describe all the ways I loved my experience at USD and how happy I am to have had my time there. But I am proud of what I accomplished there academically. I made amazing friends. And one day I hope that my kids will want to follow in my footsteps and go to college as well.