Upland, Pennsylvania; a small borough in Delaware County about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, home to 3,239 citizens. A borough where about 25% of the population falls below the poverty line; a borough I have called home for 19 years. This town has molded me into the person I have become today and continues to influence me as a young adult. From my elementary school days playing curb ball with my friends across the street to high school where I only visited home from Milton Hershey every so often; I have been able to see the changes not only in Upland but in myself and how this borough has transformed me into me. A town that will always hold a special place in my heart no matter how many people put dirt on DELCO, but a place that I sure do need to get out of.
During the final months of my eighth-grade year, I was stuck trying to figure out where I was going to go to high school. The school district in my hometown was on the verge of closing and with no definite answer on what was staying open, choosing a school was iffy. Miraculously, in the midst of lost hope, a close friend of mine came home for the Thanksgiving holiday from a boarding school named Milton Hershey. After being told about the benefits and opportunities the school had to offer I knew it was the place for me. The hard part came in telling my mother about wanting to go to a boarding school two hours away. Never had I been away from home for longer than a week and now I wanted to be away for four years, the mere thought of that created anxiety for my mom. Needless to say, I graduated from the Milton Hershey School in 2016 and going there was the greatest decision I have ever made. Leaving home to jump onboard an ocean of opportunities allowed me to take the humility and grittiness I learned from my upbringing and combine it with the pathways of success Milton Hershey had to offer.
After graduating from Milton Hershey, I began attending Juniata College in the fall of 2016. Another anxiety rising discussion for my mother as now the ride has doubled in time making me even further away from home. A college located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Juniata has allowed me to reap benefits I thought were only available to me in fantasy. From creating the major of my dreams to competing in sports at the collegiate level, to meeting students from all over the world and sharing lovely cultures. Being at Juniata has opened my eyes to things I would have never been exposed to had I stayed in Upland, but I take going to college with ignorance thankfully because it has allowed me to develop and grow extraordinarily.Heading now into my sophomore year of college I have one goal on my mind: study abroad. An opportunity of a lifetime and one that every upperclassman I come in contact with tells me to take advantage of. A few days ago I told my mom about my interest in studying abroad in York, England and she began to cry. She asked why I would want to be so far away from home and I understood her concern completely, but the answer is simple. Home is a place I will always have, a safe haven. Opportunities are momentary. I love my home and my heart will always be there but leaving and starting anew is just as important as never forgetting where you began.