This week I’m writing about what has been meaningful in my Northwestern experiences over these past four years. It would be so much easier to write about what hasn’t been meaningful. This would be a much shorter blog.

I think of Northwestern as my Hometown Part II; it’s where I grew up the second time around. I learned how to be independent navigating Evanston and Chicago, I made my lifelong friends in lectures and student groups, I learned how to read and write all over again (I just read and write differently — hopefully better! — now) over the course of completing two different majors.

In addition to all that, one of the best parts of my Northwestern experience was that I didn’t really have to make any sacrifices. NU offered everything I wanted out of college and some things I didn’t know I wanted. I got to complete two majors, one in Journalism, which is what I want to do with my life, and one in History of the Americas, which is something I just wanted to study. That I didn’t have to sacrifice my multiple academic interests for the sake of laying my career path isn’t a unique experience at NU, either. It’s an opportunity the quarter system allows and our academic advisors make sure students take advantage of.

I also didn’t have to make any sacrifices in terms of culture at Northwestern. I wanted all the spirit, athletics and academic resources of a big university, with all of the faculty attention and community of a small college. I definitely got both at NU. I really got to take advantage of the diverse student population, 19 varsity Big Ten sports and a proud, purple-wearing community while creating lasting relationships with my professors whom I got to know in a small class setting. I got to take two quarters off campus, one to study abroad and one to work at an internship in Miami, without having to sacrifice my degree progress. I truly checked everything off my Northwestern bucket list.

Now, with graduation near, I’m realizing how special of an opportunity it is to be able to tailor your college experience and still be pushed outside of your comfort zone. It’s a big deal that throughout four years of being one student of over 8,000 undergraduates at a research institution I felt personally cared for every step of the way. Thanks to friends, memories and countless incredible learning experiences, I really can say these past four years have been the most meaningful experience of my life.

–Ava Wallace

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