What a crazy four years it has been. Well, three and a half for me (thankful for those dual enrollment credits in high school). I am beyond thankful for the relationships I've created, friendships I've made, memories, laughs, cries, fights, intramural sports games, and everything else in-between. However, I never really understood the importance of college…

College to me seemed like a waste. I can honestly say I have only learned a handful of important skills during my time there. Even though my major is Communications, the classes were difficult and the information felt useless. And I had to go for four years!?!?

But my mom said to me, "College is more to prove you can commit to something for four years, your GPA doesn't matter unless you're continuing on"

THAT ALL MAKES SENSE

And college is not just about committing to school but committing to bettering yourself… after you gain and lose the freshman 15 ;) I did not wake up every day with motivation to go to class, to park in parking lot D/Halo, walking what felt like a million miles away, and sitting in a chair for two hours. But I would hop out of my bed to go to school just to hop back into my friend's bed in their dorm.

My friends have been the biggest blessing that I have gotten from going to college. They have inspired me to be better and still have a fun Saturday night.

That is very important to me. I wanted Jesus loving people in my life who also wanted to live their lives to the fullest. Luckily, I found that.

My last words to all the seniors in high school who are applying to schools and accepting spots. Do not choose because it is located in a great area, do not choose based on what classes you can take, do not choose based on the food options, what you need to do is choose based on community and the people.

Want to know why?

My freshman year, a beautiful young lady named Kayla Castro fell off Camelback Mountain while hiking/climbing. I was around 18 at the time so that was the craziest thing I have heard. Unfortunately, she did not make it….

During this time, my freshman year was about to end and I dropped out of GCU to go to ASU to be in a sorority because GCU did not have that. I remember going to a vigil for Kayla where people were singing, crying, and writing notes. People hugged each other, fundraised, supported, and loved one another. I quickly enrolled back into GCU because I wouldn't change that community for the world. Little did we know, our friend group would be the next to need support.

In April 2017, my best friend lost her roommate to a drunk driver. Her roommate, Karli, and her sister, Kelsey, had their lives taken by someone who thought he was okay to drive. Once again, a crazy situation you never thought you would have to go through or hurt through.

I remember finding out Karli passed away. I was at work, and I was on Twitter and saw someone tweeting about whom the drunk driver was, and he worked at the same place as my best friend. I texted her to see if she knew him, and she responded with, "It was Karli". My first words back were "where are you". I left work, drove to campus and picked my friends up, and we met her at a restaurant with more people. One word… Community.

GCU held a candlelight vigil for Karli a few days after. Hundreds of people who didn't even know Karli showed up behind the student union. Community.

A photo was posted on Instagram of someone laying flowers on Karli's desk with a note saying "Please leave these flowers here. Our classmate, who went home to the Lord, sat here" COMMUNITY.


Are you seeing the keyword here? You do not see this everywhere so look closely.

When Taylor White was hit by a hit and run driver while going on a run near campus, our COMMUNITY knew how to respond. He was going to get married two weeks later. We did what we did best and took care of his fiancé who was another student while she mourned. Many months later, we are supporting her dream of going to Hillsong College in Australia.

From life groups to life leaders to chapel to the gathering to mission trips to community gathering events...THESE are the things you'll always remember. Not the C you got in one class, the lack of salad bars in the union, or breaking up with your high school boyfriend when going into your first day.

I remember specific moments like going to a local coffee shop at 3 am, driving around listening to YOUTH in the car with my friends. I remember going to concerts for $14 and stealing my roommates favorite spring dress. I remember buying a turtle and constantly losing him because he would leave through our open door. I remember crying about a good amount of breakups and drinking McDonald's sweet tea every day for a few weeks straight. I remember co-founding a company with my best friend in honor of Karli. I remember going to every college basketball game and blasting The Hills in my living room TV. All this with MY people. My FOREVER people.

It is okay if the people you go into college with are not the ones you come out with. Focus on the good relationships, the healthy ones. It is crazy to think that I have found my bridesmaids (as cliché as it sounds).

I couldn't begin to type out my full college experience because wow it was a whirlwind but I'll leave you with this…. I wouldn't trade those years for the world. Enjoy it while it lasts. Be good and love others.