Having a big red reminder of how many days left I have here has altered my perception of our campus. Walking to classes with that number in my head has made me realize how much this 30-acre plot of adobe and rose gardens has influenced who I am today.
In these classrooms, I learned to look for nuance and to voice my opinion. In this library, I learned that the harder you work, the luckier you get. On the cross country course, I learned I need to get out of my comfort zone in order to get better, and that the most important workouts are the ones you do when it feels like the last thing you want to do. In this dining hall, I learned that sometimes the best medicine is soup in a bread bowl and laughing with your friends. In these offices, I learned the power of having people who care about you and believe in you. At the kiosk, I learned to never trust an automatic gate in a power outage. In the PAC, I learned the joy of being part of something bigger than myself. On the softball field, I learned the value of not being afraid to try something new. In this chapel, I learned the importance of self-reflection. In this gym is where I learned that leadership is not built on superiority but rather understanding, and that hard work and positivity are infectious. On windy field trips to the tide pools, I learned that curiosity will take you far and that asking questions is sometimes more important than knowing the answers. In study hall, in the midst of sister speeches, random dance parties, and frees spent on the couches, I learned that I have not just two sisters but two hundred.
As I look forward past these 30 days or so, past the scent of roses in the air and past the long stretch of summer ahead of us, I am nervous about defining my identity at a completely new place, with 8000 acres instead of 30 and more palm trees than rose gardens. These past four years my identity has been so intertwined with these 30 acres, with these classrooms, this chapel, these sports teams, these people. As scary as it is to uproot, I realize that I will always keep my experiences here as an integral part of my identity. I learned that Catalina is more than just a place and a ring on my finger; it is part of who I am now, and no matter where I am, I will always keep Catalina and the people here close to my heart.