My goal when I fly on an airplane is to see if I can become good enough friends with the person next to me so that by the end of the flight if I offer that person a piece of gum, my new friend will say yes. One of my favorite plane friendships began on my flight home from Kenya when I was 16. I was on an eight-hour flight after serving for a month in a local orphanage outside of Nairobi, and I was looking to strike up a conversation. Looking back on it, I was traveling completely alone and should probably not have spoken to a complete stranger. Yet, before I knew it, I was laughing with the pastor next to me as we watched videos of his family wishing him safe travels, discussed our craving for sugar after a month of Kenyan cooking that typically avoided sugar, and shared about the anticipated struggles and excitement of adjusting back to “normal” life. And, not to mention, he accepted the gum offer.
That interaction captured a lot—my love for people and building new friendships, as well as a love for adventure, independence, and working with others—especially young children. My high school experience painted a picture of all these things too. Whether it was leading my soccer, basketball, or field hockey teammates in a team-building challenge, nannying for a family of eight in the summer in Spain, teaching a High School 101 class of rowdy freshmen, or launching an Etsy shop to support friends in my Kenyan community, coaching a young U7 soccer team, leading Young Life, or working at a summer camp alongside children with special needs, I sought out adventures, a laugh, and new friends.
This is what drew me to Texas. Coming from North Carolina, I knew I wanted to attend a school with great community, academics, and sports. I wanted to continue what I started in high school—following my heart for children, laughter, and adventure. Over and over throughout my junior and senior years of high school, I would hear about UT Austin in various conversations and contexts. Each interaction pushed me closer and closer to knowing that UT absolutely felt right. From my Youth and Community Studies major that will allow me to learn more fully how to care for and about children and families from different backgrounds and communities to continuous reinforcements that UT would provide thoughtful mentors and opportunities that would challenge me to be the best possible student, person, and friend I can be, I was completely sold, and I cannot wait to be a Longhorn!
Youth and Community Studies
Young Life leader, club soccer, working in local schools/church nurseries, Greek life, RUF/local church ministries
What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program?
I’ve always valued mentorship. Throughout high school, each Friday morning, I met with Laney—my Young Life leader, life consultant, and friend. Laney was an example to me of how to love people well and ask thoughtful questions. Laney graduated from college and moved to Hawaii for my senior year to serve in a medical clinic, so then I became the Friday morning mentor to younger girls on my athletic teams. Anticipating college, I knew how much I valued that time—being poured into and pouring into others. As I looked for mentorship opportunities, I read about and was so impressed by the Forty Acres Scholars Program. Not only do alumni and current scholars support each other’s goals and dreams, but we also serve as mentors and mentees throughout our college experience and beyond.