Being in college has honestly felt like a lifetime, but also a string of quick glimpses and moments strung together by semesters. I think of the person I was two years ago, or even the person I was yesterday and I am amazed at the amount of change I witness.

I started off generally happy, rebellious, emotional and very headstrong when I came to college. As the oldest of four, it was nice to finally experience some me time to work on myself and my future. One of the biggest things that surprised me, or at least took some getting used to, was how quiet it was. I had a silent first night in my dorm, and that was the most pleasantly unexpected change I had then experienced. I also felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. Being the first to go to college, I had an example to set for my siblings. I had to show them that college is doable, and success is possible. I love my family and my siblings, and the last thing I wanted was to disappoint them.

I started off as a music major, and was beyond excited to get started on my path to becoming a music teacher. Initially wanting to study Public Relations, I had been convinced and persuaded to go into music school during my senior year of high school. Being a choir director was something I thought I would love and be good at. I auditioned for Texas State, U of H and Baylor, and got accepted to all of them. Not expecting to get into Baylor’s Music School, and definitely not expecting to pick Baylor, I weighed my odds and found that Baylor would be worth the price and would pay off in the long run. I got so many scholarships, and hoped that this would help with the financial strain that I knew college would have on my parents.

When I started my freshman year at Baylor, I was so happy for the first week or so. I was excited, there was adrenaline, joy, and the new taste of freedom. It wasn’t until my third or fourth week of school that things changed. Its alright, I thought, college isn’t easy, and isn’t meant to be. So I kept working hard. But looking back, I know I wasn’t meant to be doing the work I was doing. Theory was hard. Piano was impossible. I was at ’16’ hours when I was really at 21. As a freshman. I was barely sleeping, was eating horrible food at horrible times of the day (and night), and I had very few friends. I was generally in a bad mood from being so sleep deprived and stressed out. I was fighting with my mother almost weekly. I began to think, I should not be hating college this much. It should not be THIS impossible. I should not be stressing out over something as dumb as the way I stand when I sing, and how my voice teacher was all over me for the most redundant things. Then I thought about taking the same sort of classes I was taking for the next three years, and it literally made me cry. Also, being a teacher was not going to provide me with the income I needed to pay off my student loans. Thats when I knew I needed to change majors.

This was probably the worst part about freshman year. This transitionary period that occurred about halfway through the semester, when midterms were in full swing, I got the flu worse than I ever had before, and developed a cyst right below my stomach. I had called my mom and told her I wanted to switch majors, and she absolutely freaked out. She stole all of my money out of my bank account, money I had worked for and saved up for two years as a waitress at Outback Steakhouse. I was sick, penniless, alone, tired, and cannot remember a time when I was more stressed. I thought about suicide a few times, because to me that was better than being the disappointment I was becoming, along with being friendless and having no source of happiness left. I hated singing, when I used to love it so much. I hated people, and envied their happiness and how easy others had it when I once thrived off of being around others and loved company. I was at the lowest point in my life.

I had agreed to go to Christmas on 5th with my roommates when December came around. I passed all the tables with their merchandise, when I passed a group of familiar faces and a girl looked directly at me.’Hey Cassandra,’ she said. I felt nervous, but also bad because I hadn’t remembered her name. It was one of the sororities I had met at Late Night, a small group of girls called Kappa Delta Chi. I remember being completely shocked that she remembered my name, when she must have talked to a hundred other girls that night. I said hi back, and she invited me to come to some of their rush events. Rushing a sorority wasn’t exactly on the agenda, but I thought, at this point I really have nothing else, so its worth looking into.

I began hanging out with these girls, Vanessa, Brenda and Yvette, by doing things like painting picture frames, eating Chick Fil A together, and talking about Hispanic culture and its presence (or lack of presence) at Baylor. I had never been around girls that just… got me during my time at Baylor until I met them. As I got to know them better, I got to know their hearts, which were kind, loving, and so generous. I look back and I thank God that these girls where placed in my life when they were. It was also during this time, second semester of my freshman year, that I had finally changed my major to Public Relations and was doing better than ever in my classes. I had professors whom I loved, and who wanted to help me succeed, and I was so much happier. I loved what I was learning, was set on what I was doing, and had no doubt in my mind that this was where I was meant to be.

Although they’ve all graduated now, and I’m not really involved in KDChi anymore, I still cherish their love and friendship as one of the best things I had in college. Crossing as part of four girls entering the sorority, one ended up transferring and another went inactive. So it was up to me and the fourth girl I crossed with to revive the organization during my sophomore year. Vanessa was a senior in nursing school, which is in Dallas. We did the best we could and in the end, I took on way more than I could, and my grades suffered the consequences. I decided that while I do want the sisterhood and the experience, the task of reviving an organization was much too large for one person, or even two. And I’m in college to get my degree, to do well in school so I have a higher GPA and the chance at a better job. Although it was very, very hard to do,  I knew that walking away was the best thing I could do. I love every single one of those girls so much, but I needed to do this for me, and rethink my priorities. Or else I’d become just another dropout, and just another statistic of a girl who couldn’t cut it.

The next semester, now my second semester of sophomore year, I absolutely thrived. I put all my focus on school, and work, and even started training for the Bearathon 5k.  I felt better, was prouder of my grades, and actually ended up making the Dean’s List. I had saved my scholarships, and my chance to continue my education. Everything was on the line, and the stress that came with that was drastic, but I told myself that I was bigger than that, and I would do everything it takes, give everything I had in me to save my education. And I did. It wasn’t easy, but I had never fought harder than I did that semester for my education. I also started attending church, and exploring my curiosity about God and what God means, as well as faith and religion. I was so intrigued, so overtaken that I had to learn more. I met with the priest, Father Daniel, and arranged to begin RCIA courses in the fall. I couldn’t be more excited. I was working out, running, studying, going to church, and doing everything that made me happy.

The following semester I started my junior year. Over and over again I looked at my course sequence to make sure I was on track. So far, its been foolproof, and all the summer school I take helps a lot. I actually decided to attempt studying abroad in Italy, something I never, ever in my entire life imagined myself doing. So far, I have applied to 12-13 different study abroad scholarships. I really want this to happen, and have done everything in my power to do it. I participated in a pageant that got cancelled, but also made some amazing new friends from being a part of it. I go to RCIA every week, and Bible study whenever I can.

I have definitely felt God’s presence in my life stronger than I ever have before, but that does not mean everything is perfect. I experienced very drastic changes in my living situations, but quite honestly, they were for the better. I am so much happier now.

I am so lucky to have been brought up by parents who believe in hard work, discipline, and high expectations. I am so lucky that they instilled this work ethic in me, and I want to do every single thing I can to make them proud.