All unique experiences should be cherished

I’m from Austin, so naturally when I tell people I go to TCU, they ask, “Why didn’t you go to UT?”

It’s a good question. I love Austin, and the University of Texas is an excellent university. I would have received a great education, and I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed my time there. But reflecting back on my four years at TCU, I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else. My experiences at TCU have been incredibly diverse, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I learned to two-step and danced the night away at Billy Bob’s. I met people from all over the world and explored new perspectives through Model United Nations.

I cheered on the Horned Frogs at the Rose Bowl as they conquered the Wisconsin Badgers — a feat few thought possible. I watched the sun rise over the Guadalquivir River in Seville (and not because I woke up early).

I deepened my understanding of the world by travelling to Nicaragua, where even the smallest luxuries are never taken for granted. I wrote a thesis in political science that challenged me academically in ways previously unimaginable. I found mentors who believed in me even when I didn’tt believe in myself. I laughed until I cried with friends I now can’t imagine life without.

These friends are rare. These moments are rare. These opportunities are rare.

As I prepare to graduate and leave this place, more than ever I am fully aware of this. Although these are my experiences, they are ultimately a result of the people and opportunities around me at TCU.

Perhaps because of its small size, TCU has given me an abundance of opportunities I’m sure I wouldn’t have experienced elsewhere. Take advantage of every new experience you have here at TCU.

These opportunities gave me knowledge and skills in many different areas and allowed me to grow into a well-rounded young woman who sees the world in vastly different ways as a result. Do something that challenges you, makes you uncomfortable, pushes you far beyond what you thought you could do. You won’t regret it.

There is something unique and special about the friends you make in college. They become more like your family, really. You live together; you eat together; you laugh and cry together; you even fight with each other at some point; and you forget what life without them was like. Cherish every moment you share with these people because there’s really no other time in your life like it.

The TCU experience is different for everyone, but the friends and opportunities surrounding me at TCU have defined mine. They have shaped me and molded me into the person I am today. I didn’t decide to attend UT. I chose TCU, and that has made all the difference.

Kaitlyn Van Gorkom is a senior political science and strategic communication double major from Austin.