GABRIELLA WILTZ

An Ode to Freshman Year

Don’t get your hopes up, I’m not a poet and I’m not even going to attempt poetry right now.

I cannot believe that my freshman year is actually over. It’s April and I’m preparing to move out. It was just August and I was just scared out of my mind to start chasing my dreams. If someone would have told me that time would fly so quickly would have gotten a laugh and an eye roll out of me. But on to my point…

This has been a truly remarkable beginning to this chapter of my life. Everything that I was thirsting for at the end of high school as begun to be fulfilled and so much more. I was afraid to start school here for a few reasons, most of them revolving around other people’s opinions (or lack thereof) about my choice for higher education. What if the school’s too big? What if I hate the dance department? What if it’s just not for me? Here I am, a year under my belt, laughing at my list of worries.

I honestly believe that I am a student at one of the greatest universities in the country and a member of one of the most amazing dance departments ever, it’s almost overwhelming how perfect everything feels to me. From an amazing high school to an even more amazing college, I am growing in ways that I didn’t know were possible this early on. If I know nothing else, I know myself ten times better than I did last summer. I’ve gotten a glimpse of the world that I could have when I graduate and have experienced new things to love with my whole heart. I’ve added so many dimensions to my personality and yet, a large chunk of me still remains the same. I guess you could say I’m starting to come into my own.

This year would not have been possible if I wasn’t surrounded by individuals that truly inspire me every single day. The freshman class of 2017 is honestly one of the most remarkable groups I have ever known to exist. We’re definitely not the same, and we’re definitely not done growing into who we are, but I honestly think we have set a truly high bar for the fall’s incoming class. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something magical about when we create, perform, learn, and laugh together. We are legitimately the amazing freshman class in the eyes of the department and I tear up watching my amazing peers and thinking about how we all started. 8:30 AM classes in HOT ASS Pomerene! But with the help of the faculty we made it through both semesters with flying colors.

Not only are the freshmen amazing dancers, they’re amazing people. What would my freshman year have been without football pre games, dance parties, and breakfast before class? Lunch without the freshmen hallway or the freshmen steps would have been too lonely.

What am I going to do without you guys this summer?

To the faculty that have helped me grow:

Sofie, I love you with all my heart! The 8:30 AM contemporary class and having you for seminar for both semesters makes you a go to person. You know me better than any other faculty at this point and it’s reassuring to know that I have someone that cares.

Abby, I am so fortunate to have been able to work with you for your final year in the department. Your class scared me to death last semester! The little freshmen were kind of intimidated by your big personality in the beginning but wow are you someone that’s easy to love. Thank you so much for giving me the amazing opportunity of performing in Drums Downtown as a freshman. It was a long, grueling process and you really pushed me sometimes, but I’m better because of it. Thank you so much for everything and I know you’re going to kick ass at U of I next year. I’ll come visit!

There are so many more faculty that I’ve had an amazing pleasure working with, but these were the two that I spent the most time with. I appreciate what I’ve learned in every single class, even the ones that weren’t my favorite.

I can’t act like I didn’t have a life outside of the dance department. I’m so grateful to have been a part of First Year Leadership Initiative and created the amazing bonds that I have! To those friends that I’ve connected with without having dance or FYLI as a commonality, I love you all. I’ve met some pretty amazing people this year and I owe a lot of those relationships to a few specific people. I won’t say names, but you have impacted me like no other. There aren’t enough words for this blog post to let you know what you mean to me. Just know, my freshman year wouldn’t have been half of what it was without you.

It makes me sad that I have to leave this beautiful place with these beautiful people for months, but I’m also eager to see what the next years together brings us.

To my freshman year, you’ve been imperfectly perfect.

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