The person behind the camera is my dear friend Kristen Pugh! If you are in the Tuscaloosa, Auburn, or Birmingham area looking for a kind, creative, easy to work with, and lively photographer, she is your girl. Kristen specializes in weddings but also takes a handful of grad and portrait pictures. If you want to get in contact with her, this is her website and her Instagram. I promise you won’t regret working with her!
I guess time really does fly by when you’re having the time of your life. After having the most iconic four years of my life, I thought it was only proper to end it a sob fest blog post. So excuse me as I continue bawling my eyes out and procrastinate packing my bags to fly down to Alabama in 24 hours for the last time as a student. (I’m now back in Salt Lake, but I still have struggled with finalizing this post because once I post it, it’s the end of my time being a Bama babe) Truthfully I’ve been trying to write this blog post since the middle of March, and unsurprisingly, I still don’t have the right words to explain how grateful I am to have attended The University of Alabama. Without further ado, This post is about how I picked UA, my experience on campus, and why I love the capstone.
Make sure to grab a coffee, glass of wine, or an extra cold yellow hammer when walking down my memory lane.
I’m nevertheless trying to figure out how in the heck four years have passed since I started in the Fall of 2016 as a Freshman at the University of Alabama. It’s crazy looking back at how much I have evolved over the past couple of years. & that’s based solely on the fact that I forced myself out of my tiny bubble in Utah and left the only place I have ever really known. I grew up attending a small Catholic school from Pre-K up to 12th grade, where I graduated with 200 people in my class. This meant that I knew everyone and everyone knew me, don’t get me wrong it was nice to have such a close relationship with my classmates and faculty but, it was comfortable, and I felt like I couldn’t push myself anymore there.
I always thought about going out of state but never really thought I would fully commit to leaving everything behind to start an entirely new chapter. After a few meltdowns with my guidance counselor, I applied everywhere and anywhere that I felt I had the remote possibility of getting accepted. I didn’t have the best grades or test scores, so I was mainly throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what would stick. I ended up getting very overwhelmed with the whole process, so my dad sat me down and made me write a list for five items I needed from a University.
- Warm weather
- School spirit
- Large campus with a small-town vibe
- A variety of ways to get involved on and off-campus
- Price (we set a budget for semester costs and wanted to stay within that price range because college is pricey)
Once I finalized my list, I went on my merry way, applying left and right to every school that matched my criteria. I got A LOT of no’s or waitlist emails before I got my first acceptance letter. I remember getting ready to leave for cheer practice and thought I would check the mail *again* just in case something might have popped up 😉 I pulled the crimson acceptance packet out and sobbed my eyes out, no joke. I think I knew at that moment that, Alabama was where I wanted to end up because they saw potential in me.
After receiving a few more acceptance letters, I narrowed it down to three schools I wanted to tour. I went to Alabama in Spring of 2016, as soon as my dad and I stepped foot on the quad during our tour, I think we both knew that this was the place I need to be. It’s hard to describe, but there was just this “it factor” feeling that I felt down in my gut when we walked around. I think this is what you experience when you meet your significant other, but lord knows that hasn’t happened yet, haha. A few short months later, in August, I packed up almost everything I owned and jumped on a plane to start my new adventure. Hopping on that first plane was the hardest thing I have ever done; saying goodbye to my family and friends to start a new life was heartbreaking, but man did I make the right choice.
I went through Sorority Recruitment and ended up at Alpha Phi, my forever home away from home on Bid Day. Rushing was 100% one of the best things I did while in college because it introduced me to other girls from around the country and created a space that made me feel like I had a home on campus because Alabama is MASSIVE, and it’s easy to feel lost. I met some of my best friends in that house and gained so many leadership skills by serving on exec. I will never forget the memories created in Bryant Denny Stadium, the countless road trips to new cities and away games, and way too many nights stumbling home after a few too many cocktails with messy fries in hand. I’m going to miss living three minutes away from my friends, and the nights we would stay up so late, we could watch the sunrise. It’s the smallest things that I’m going to have the hardest time adjusting to living without like, walking in a room and instantly having a friend to sit next to because we were in the same sorority or always having someone down the hall which is free and wants to go hangout.
I’m incredibly grateful for my time in Alabama, but all great things must come to an end. This past Sunday, August 2nd, I walked across the stage to receive my diploma and officially marked the end of this chapter in my life. Don’t worry, everyone was participating in social distancing, and it was mandatory to wear a mask, so please don’t come for me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious and a little overwhelmed because with the world falling apart and my job offers getting taken back, I’m not sure what’s coming next in my life. All I know is that great things come to those who continue to push forward and create their own opportunities. I have hopes and dreams to live in a larger city, but with COVID-19 still uprooting the lives of many, I think its best I stay in Salt Lake City until things settle down, and most importantly, I can find a job that pushes me forward in my career.
The part I love most about the capstone is that it’s NOT just four years of college. The collegiate experience is just the beginning of my journey with Alabama. UA is rooted in a rich history and has passionate traditions that make you PART of the university once you join this school. Just because you aren’t on campus doesn’t mean you leave everything behind, absolutely not. If anything, it strengths your bond with the Tuscaloosa community. You know how spectacular it is and want to continue spreading love to all those who will listen. I have shared these Alabama traditions with my family and will continue to pass them down to my kids and grandchildren. The friendships I created on campus will only continue to grow from here on out as we all take on our next adventure, but deep down, all have the same values and, of course, love for football. I’m not exactly sure where UA is going to take me, but I’m excited to see what happens along the way.
Time for one last toast so raise your drink and repeat after me:
There are good ships, and there are wood ships and ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are national championships, and Alabama has 17!!
Pop the bubbly because that’s a wrap on the best four years of my life. Thank you for being one of the biggest blessings in my life Sweet Home Alabama and Roll Tide, till the day I die! I’ll see you in Bryant Denny Stadium this season *Hopefully* and every fall after that because I can’t stay away for that long lol.
Signing off for now as a proud Bama alumnus,