Two years ago, had you told me that I would love college as much as I would love high school, I would have laughed in your face. Now, I am so proud to say that I go to the university that I do.

My journey to Southern Miss started my junior year of high school. When I toured it, there was something that I kept going back to. I did not know it at the time, but that something was falling in love with the little school with a big heart. I knew before my senior year of high school started that Southern Miss was my home, and I was nervous and excited.

I could have gone the way that many of my high school friends went and stayed closer to home. I could have gone to a bigger Southeastern Conference school that was also close to home. But I wanted to do something different. I have always been one that does not conform to what people think I should do, and with my college decision, it was no different.

I was a scared freshman when I walked onto the University of Southern Mississippi's campus in the summer of 2015. Looking back, I had no reason to be. My campus is diverse, and there is a 99.9% chance you will run into someone you know when you are walking around. At the time, though, I did not know any different. Orientation got me used to the idea of college, but I still had no idea what I was in for.

I moved in that August like all freshmen do. I attended Golden Eagle Welcome Week and got acquainted to my campus. A lot changed when I went through sorority recruitment and did not get into a sorority, but that did not stop me. That fall, I found SGA, but I like to say that SGA actually found me. In it, I have gotten to redefine my own definition of family. While my actual family may not be there for me through thick and thin, my Student Government and Southern Miss family always have my back.

The struggles I had seemed so big at the time, but my friend Amanda Jo is right when she says that "everything happens for a reason." No matter how big or small your struggles are, in the long run, they are worth it. You may not always get what you apply for, but sometimes, other, better things happen. It's serendipity.

I am the happiest I have ever been because of Southern Miss. I have two people to thank for being my light posts for it. First off, Mrs. B. Thank you for showing me that Southern Miss was my home and that the golden spirit that lives at Southern Miss is with me. Secondly, Mrs. Rotolo. You exemplify what it means to have spirit for Southern Miss, and you instilled that in me. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you, Southern Miss, for being my light in my sometimes overcast world. Thank you for showing me who I am as a person, and that I am more than my struggles. Thank you for not allowing me to be a number. I am a proud golden eagle, and this university has given me wings to soar.

Southern Miss? You know the rest.