Every applicant has an essay question that they absolutely loathe. It’s a question that you see other kids answer with responses that are witty, emotional, and so well written that you know that anything you try to write will be immediately put to shame. The essay question that made me let out a sigh that would rival Bill Murray’s from the movie Zombieland went something like: “Tell us about a defining moment in your life.”
Yes, because at age 18, I’d had so many defining moments.
I grew up in times of peace, my family loves me, and I got a puppy for my 13th birthday. Although happy and adorable, I wouldn’t ever consider them “defining.” For quite some time I considered that question my own Achilles tendon, my Kryptonite, and the words that would forever crush my hopes of getting accepted into the school of my dreams. Truth is, I didn’t really have the best answer to that question at the time I was writing my personal statement for my application. However, August 12, 2013, because I had been accepted to my dream school, and as I was telling my family goodbye , I stumbled upon the answer to that ultimate question.
So now in retrospect, I would like to take this opportunity to finally answer the question,“Tell us about a defining moment in your life.”
Growing up in northeast Kansas, I have always known a life that was safe and a bit slower than what some of you are used to. My hometown’s current population is 3,302 people, 2 stoplights, and thousands upon thousands of cows. I have a huge family, with each member being just as cool as the other side of a pillow. I attended a university for my undergrad that was about an hour and fifteen minutes away from my hometown. It was
close enough that my parents could make all of my softball games, but far enough away that they couldn’t show up unannounced. The easy path would be for me to take a job in my hometown, marry a guy that I went to high school with, and never leave. The problem with that plan is that my brother had moved to Chicago, and he used every opportunity to drag me up there with him. He gave me a small taste of the world, and as a result, I wanted more. I needed more. I hadn’t really “fit in” in my small town, or really in my undergrad college, and so I was hoping to go somewhere else, start over, and just wing it. Deciding on Southern California and the best optometry school in the world is a whole other story that I’m more than willing to expand upon some other time; but I decided to write this blog during finals week and it is going to be a stretch for me to answer just one question.
Also, I’d like to leave you wanting for more.
Here you see a classic example of me in Holton, KS. Yes, those are bib-overalls, and yes that is a deer head. And yes, I am smiling about it, mostly because I know how ridiculous this picture is, especially with the hay bale in the background. Above on the right is a picture of me with my brother, when he took me to Seattle. My brother is one of my biggest inspirations in my life, and if it weren’t for him always leaping in before he looked, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So, thanks Eric, you’ve always been my number one fan, even if you were really mean to me sometimes.
Back to the important part, answering “the question.”
Deciding to go to Marshall B. Ketchum University was quick, simple, and the best decision I’ve ever made. Telling all my friends and family was too easy. Packing for the chance of a lifetime only took me a couple of days. Loading up my car with all the important things that I would need (bike, swimming suit, suntan lotion) was so exciting and exhilarating, and everything fit in like a glove. It wasn’t until the night before I was supposed to leave, that my family had a barbeque to tell me goodbye, that I realized that this may be a decision that I wasn’t prepared for. It wasn’t until my niece Lexie was giving me a hug, and was refusing to let go, that I realized that I might have made a wrong decision. Lexie was wrapped so tight around my neck that I was having trouble breathing, and I’m not sure if it was because she was squeezing so tight, or because suddenly the weight of the world was bearing down on my shoulders.
It hit me then that I wasn’t just moving off to California for summer camp, but it was for a long amount of time. I wasn’t just going to be gone a couple of weeks, I was going to be gone years. I was going to miss Lexie’s birthday, her dance recitals, her softball games, pool parties, her first tooth fairy experience, Thanksgiving, giggles, jokes, or the fact that she’s grown 2 inches almost over night. What you don’t realize is that you’re going to miss their hugs, kisses, snuggles, or just when they ask you to read them a book, or help them put together a puzzle.
Let me introduce to you, quite possibly, the most amazing 3 kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Miss Lexie, on the left. Master Asher is in the middle, and Miss Ellis is on the right. Each of which inspires me to love every second of life, and to wait to have children until I’m much, much older. What’s the best part about moving to California? People like to vacation to where you are. YEAH! While visiting their Aunt Jenn in Southern California, above are the 3 musketeers enjoying a day in San Diego! Sorry about that first-quarter finals/grades, but it was totally worth it to spend time with them!
My defining moment occurred when I went to leave the next morning. This was it. I could have just said that I couldn’t do it, I could have stayed, and no one would have blamed me. My mom and dad were both crying, and my dog was completely ignoring me because she always knows when I’m leaving her. I’ve always been a planner, and I had scheduled my departure to be at 6:00 a.m. I didn’t leave until about 7:30, and what my parents don’t know is that I didn’t actually leave the town until hours later. I pulled my car over, just at the edge of town, and seriously thought about whether I’d made the right decision.
My defining moment was when I decided, “yes, I can do this” and I turned my car on, put it in drive, and headed west.
I didn’t call my parents until I had crossed the Kansas border, because I knew that if I were to talk to my dad before that, I would have turned the car around.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my mom. A typical day at home involves picking corn from our garden, and me reading on the front porch on our swing. I also love how I captured my mom’s inability to ever wear shoes, which is totally appropriate at home.
Below is a a photo of how my parents greeted me at the airport after I found out that I had been accepted to MBKU. This is probably another one of my favorite moments in life.
Excuse me while I go grab a tissue to wipe up the water that has suddenly started leaking from my face.
Fast forward a little ways, I’ve finally settled in at MBKU and I know you’re thinking, “Well, how’s it going?”
Phenomenal. This has been one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve ever had.
I think this blog has been wordy enough, so I’ll just let some of my pictures speak for themselves. They are, after all, worth a thousand words….
If all goes well, I’ll be more than happy to share some of my hilarious Kansas to California moments, and my top 10 most frequently asked questions since moving to California. Until then, enjoy! Here’s a group of us trying to get all the freebies we can from the Western Regional Conference! Schools from the west coast all gathered together at MBKU to learn about some of the newest and fanciest technology that is now available to our field. This has been one of my favorite events that I have attended at school so far!
As you can probably tell, we all have our moments of getting homesick. To help fight off the homesick infection, we take lots of Vitamin C, and we also like to do fun activities that remind of us home. The pumpkin carving competition was intense this year (like camping), and some of our inner nerd really shined through.
What are some of the benefits of volunteering? Oh, I don’t know, maybe that you get to meet celebrities like Dr. Cox from Scrubs! Classmates Sam, Alex and I met Dr. Cox when we were volunteering for the Special Olympics! After volunteering for them once, I was immediately hooked and have signed up for all of their events. I can’t wait until the summer to help with their next event!
Classmate Bri and I share a drink on our beautiful campus as we await the start of the talent show. Our school is not only eyeball-smart, but talented too! The boot I’m wearing is from a surfing accident; clearly I haven’t mastered that skill yet. But, don’t worry, just give it time.
In the end though, I always keep my family’s notes to me close by. They remind me of why I am working so hard in school. Plus, I really love how Lexie spells everything: “Calafornya” is an amazing place to be, and I can’t wait to experience more.
But, I’m also very excited to go home and visit for a mini vacation this summer!