Emily DietrichMy parents made college a priority, and encouraged me to explore the many options — both near and far. I can remember looking through the college brochures and catalogs my older brother received as he had just navigated the college application and entrance process. I loved to visit colleges, and took as many campus tours as possible (who wouldn't want to go to college at the beach, right?). After many prayers, and even more pro/con lists, I finally selected a private, liberal arts college where I felt I could be accepted for who I was, challenged both intellectually and socially, and encouraged by others.

My four years were filled with many decisions — what to major in, what organizations to join, how to spend my time, what classes to take, etc. I found friends and staff whom I could trust and turn to for support, especially when Mom and Dad didn't know the answer. While my parents were always supportive, I knew there were questions they couldn't answer only because they didn't have a full understanding of the situation. Sure, I made some mistakes which thankfully ended up being great life lessons. I also realized that there were times my parents didn't "give" me the answer; not because they didn't know the answer, but because it was an opportunity for me to make my own decisions (uh, adulthood). At the commence conclusion of my four years, I walked away from campus with life-long friends, a strong desire to help others, a solid education, and skills that still serve me well today.