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  • Orange. My senior year of high school, it was the color of my cell phone, my Nike sneakers, and the dream paint-job on my '03 Jeep Liberty. At the time, I didn't realize how significant that color would become for the rest of my life. Now, a college senior at Clemson University, the color orange is part of my blood. As cheesy as it sounds, the past three and a half years I have spent on my own in the upstate of South Carolina, nine hours from where I grew up, have undoubtedly shaped the very being of who I am. I now know who I am; even though I didn't know it Freshman Year, I know why your college years are the most pivotal and essential years of your life. The mistakes, triumphs, lessons learned, and achievements I have come by these past couple of years are the stories that shape who I will be for the rest of my life, and I could not have imagined being where I am today if it had not been for my time spent in Clemson, South Carolina.

    My college journey is very atypical, and not one most would be proud of, but I wouldn't change it even if I could. I had to learn things the hard way; naively, I thought that college was just as it was depicted in the movies. Class? Totally optional. Assignments? Those were only recommendations. Social life was the only thing that mattered. I hung out with the right people, but I didn't realize that besides being some of the best friends, they were also productive members of society when they weren't out doing typical college-kid things. I lied to myself for an entire semester, persuading my inner conscience that everything would work out and I had nothing to worry about. When the letter came that December telling me that I was on academic probation, I was overcome with a wave of disappointment, confusion, and anxiety. I had legitimately wasted four months of my life, and that fact is something I will carry with me until my dying day.

    My first semester of Freshman Year was the defining moment I needed in order to become the person I knew I was capable of being. Receiving that letter in the mail is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me because it pushed me to work harder than I have ever worked in order to overcome the gigantic obstacle I had created for myself. After that first semester, I was forced to grow up. When my friends had earned the luxury of relaxation and downtime; for me, that opportunity was lost along with that first semester. So, I made changes. I got involved. I wanted to do things I would be proud of. I was faced with rejection after rejection because my grades weren't good enough, so I worked even harder. For every person that told me 'no,' I decided to create a 'yes' by doing it myself. I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, so I started doing it. I love social media, so I created multiple voices for myself through multiple social channels; and I have a pretty strong audience, if I do say so myself. My first true passion is writing, so I started a blog, I wrote for two newspapers, and I founded an online magazine. I applied for and received invaluable internships, and now am having to turn down internship opportunities because I have too many. The incredible journey of my life from Freshman Year to Senior Year is something I am truly proud of and am more than willing to describe to any employer, and I truly have my own mistakes to thank for that journey.

    Now, I'm sure I would have had a similar journey to adulthood at another university, but I chose Clemson because I woke up one morning with an unexpected gut feeling in the pit of my stomach that it was where I was meant to be. And, now, three years later, the final pieces to that puzzle are coming together, showing me why I had that gut feeling. I knew that my years spent in college would be the best years of my life, but four years ago I didn't know the brevity or the depth of that statement. These years have been the best years not only because of the memories I have made or the relationships I have come to cherish, but because of the incredible personal growth I have experienced, both intellectually and emotionally. Being at Clemson, and experiencing the things I have experienced, has been the best decision of my entire life so far, and I will always have pride in being a Clemson Tiger, for it is the color orange that has shaped who I am today, and who I will be for the rest of my life.
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