Tell us about your time growing up, your family and high school, please: Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my family. My two younger siblings and I would spend hours together outside playing imaginary games or doing the random things kids do, like walking to the park or playing in the water. We always had to be home in time for dinner, because every night our family ate dinner together at the kitchen table. It made me appreciate our family time together every night, and I still like to spend time with my family to this day. We lived in Colorado until I was 16 years old, and then we moved to Ames, Iowa. My family has always been supportive of each other. We tell each other everything and we believe in each other, no matter what our dreams are made of. We believe in hard work, that things don’t come to you unless you try. Ames High School was like any other high school, I think. We had a medium sized class, and I was one of the students who had many friends in many different groups because I just love people. I may have been mad that my parents moved me to Ames when I was 16, but now I am very grateful to have lived there, and I love Iowa.
What are you studying here at Kirkwood and why did you choose that path?: I went through the Floral Program and got my diploma in Floral Careers, and I just finished my Associates in Liberal Arts at Kirkwood. I am using my Floral Careers diploma right now, working at The Flower Shop at Cedar Memorial Park. With my Associates degree I am moving on to Coe College to work for a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing with a minor in Environmental Studies. I chose that path because I love writing. I hope to use my developed Creative Writing skills to be a future published author and to work in the field of saving the environment.
You just got back from a Study Abroad program in Brazil. What attracted you to want to be a part of that experience?: I have always been interested in seeing different parts of the world, and I have heard many good things about the culture in Brazil. I was very excited when I applied for the program in Brazil because I knew it was an amazing opportunity. I liked the aspect of teaching high school students English, I liked the fact that it was an opportunity through Kirkwood because my experience here has been great, and I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of others not only on a local and national level but on a global level.
What is one memory from the trip that you will never forget?: That is a tough question, there are a lot. I think one thing that really hit home for me was around the second week of teaching, when we all were starting to get the hang of what we were doing, but we realized that the students’ comprehension wasn’t quite as high as we had anticipated or hoped for. I talked to our leaders and I said “I don’t know what to do, we only have two weeks left and I feel like I have so much more to teach these students.” They replied “There is more to this than teaching English. This is to help the students gain confidence in themselves and to feel more comfortable with new relationships and trying new things.” It hit me, that while the English aspect was important, the more important part was that we used our time there to make the kind of difference that would set them up for future success. I will never forget how important it is to pay attention to how I make someone feel, because that can make all the difference.
Did the trip change your worldview? If so, how?: It did. The minute we arrived, we were loved by every one of those students. They hugged and kissed our cheeks hello. I felt accepted for who I am, and I was told by them that I am perfect just the way I am. I have always known that it is important to treat each other with kindness, but to feel the love I felt from complete strangers showed me how I can make other people feel if I show them the same love. No matter what language we speak, or which part of the world we come from, being loved feels the same.
What are your ultimate goals for the future?: My plans are to continue learning every day, to write books and use my experiences to hopefully touch the lives of people I have never met. I also aim to work for a non profit agency/organization that helps the environment. I’m not sure in what particular aspect that may be, whether it is negotiating with factories about the amount of pollution they put off or writing for National Geographic to help pique people’s interest in nature.