Before Wellesley, I was a divided person who was extroverted and confident on the outside but drowning in constant inner turmoil and chaos. Although I had many friends in high school, I always felt out of place and relatively silent on the things that mattered to me, and I never felt like I belonged to anything really outside of myself and my drive to leave the town I was in and make a life for myself.

My first night at Wellesley, and every night thereafter throughout my 4 years, I learned what safety felt like, and what friendship - true friendship - looked like. I learned that vulnerability is a strength, and this is a lesson I continue to carry with me today. For the first time in my life up until that point, I felt safe to cry and let myself be supported by the people who I eventually allowed myself to accept actually cared about me.

At the risk of coming off as melodramatic, before Wellesley I was an empty shell of a person living purely off of survival instincts and focused determination on a particular goal (college). It was the equivalent of spending 18 years deep underwater, clawing towards a dim circle of sunlight and hoping you have enough air in your lungs to make it. Wellesley was the point where my head burst through the surface, where my lungs could finally expand and greedily pull in breath, where I could allow myself to look around and experience the world, finally.

Wellesley gave me a chance at a life I would have otherwise never been able to dream of, and I will carry that experience - and the gratitude for it - with me the rest of my life.