Well, it is Fall Family Weekend; the most difficult for me because my family has never been able to visit. Being from Los Angeles, California, it makes it difficult to arrange a visit that will not interfere with my family’s schedules. Even though I am a senior, there are times when I text my mom or call my dad to tell them how much I miss them. Talking to my brother over Skype is heartwarming and overwhelming because every time I see him again, it is as if he has grown two feet! The photos below are a testament to how much I have missed these past three years. The one on the left was June 2014 at my high school graduation, and the one on the right is December 2016 after arriving home for winter break. (I promise, I am not shrinking.)
My family continues to give me strength, even from almost three thousand miles away, because they are the reason why I am here and why I have to succeed. This weekend is also really important because I always find myself reflecting on how I got to Middlebury, and the network outside of my immediate family that got me to where I am today.
For the first ten years of my life, I grew up down the street from the University of Southern California. My entire childhood, I was convinced that I would be a Trojan. Even though that is not true because I am a Panther, where I grew up was integral in establishing higher education as a priority and possibility for me. (Below is a picture of me on my first day of kindergarten!)
Throughout my schooling, I have had many mentors who have invested their time and energy into my success, and the one who stands out the most is Dr. Lori Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes was the assistant principal at my high school during my first year and, although she moved on to another school, we stayed in touch. She was an integral part of my college application process because she actually sat down with me to help me create a list of schools that I would apply to. Once we were done with my list, she noticed that I had not listed any schools on the East Coast. When she asked why that was, I told her that neither me nor my family were ready to commit to sending me across the country. She nodded her head and said that if there was one school on the East Coast that I should apply to, it should be Middlebury College in Vermont. She said that the small class sizes would be good for me since I came from a small charter high school, I would have access to a diverse curriculum, and I would be in a place that was demographically and environmentally different from what I was used to.
So, because she was my mentor and I trusted her, I decided to apply. It was not until I got accepted that I realized the magnitude of the journey I had just embarked on. When I told my college counselor that Middlebury had accepted me, she jumped out of her chair, gave me a huge hug and then started throwing words like liberal arts college and NESCAC around. I had no idea what these words meant at the time, so I decided to find out by visiting for Preview Days. (Below are some photos that I took on my visit. The snow was very exciting for me, considering I was born and raised as a city girl.)
Preview Days was so important because as soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew that this is where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. My few days on campus were a whirlwind, and I returned home excited and overwhelmed. Was I really going to leave home? Was I going to spend the next four years of my life living in Vermont? YES, I WAS. Decision day came and after I committed, I actually waited until a few days later to tell my parents where I had decided to attend. You can imagine my parents’ surprise when I told them I would be leaving home. But, I think now that I am a senior, my dad has finally gotten used to the fact that I leave home every few months for college.
So, while Fall Family Weekend can be a difficult time for those of us who cannot always have our parents around, it is important to remember what this weekend represents: that our families support us, no matter how far they are, and they are the reason why many of us have made it so far.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Toni Cuevas ‘18