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Thankful for the memories

Thankful for the memories

Cara Gfroerer '24 November 19, 2023

Grateful doesn’t come close to describing the way I feel toward the University of Dayton. My time at UD has transformed me in the best way possible. When I came here as a freshman, I was unbelievably lost and lonely. I didn’t know what I wanted out of my life — I lacked motivation and felt misunderstood despite the fact that I was surrounded by people my age with similar interests, experiences and feelings. 

However, quickly during my time on campus I made friends that encouraged me to be the best version of myself. I am forever thankful for the people in my life that motivated me to get involved. Including my professors who genuinely took an interest in my success and made me realize I was capable of not only pursuing, but achieving my goals. Because of these people I began to take pride in the effort I put into my schoolwork and my accomplishments in student organizations. 

The general attitude on campus was so positive and uplifting, whether it was something as small as smiles from those walking by, or someone taking the time to hold the door open for a stranger. I felt encouraged and supported by the community around me, which has undoubtedly made me an overall happier person.

And it wasn’t just the experiences I’ve had on campus that changed me.

Most of all, the experiential learning opportunities I’ve had through UD are what made me into the person I am today. I was able to study abroad in Dublin and Belfast, Ireland during the summer of 2022 and spent the entire spring 2023 semester at Chaminade University in Honolulu. 

Studying abroad made me realize my own capabilities and brought out a sense of confidence in myself I didn’t know I possessed.

My time abroad brought out the best in me and my ability to organize, plan and budget. Seeing the world, and realizing how much beauty there is in it inspired me to be adventurous and seek out new experiences. 

During sunset, I jumped off a 40 foot cliff (Ka Lae) at the southernmost point of the U.S. on the Big Island of Hawaii. I spent a day in the Eyre Square in Galway and got matching Clauddagh rings with my friends. I spent a weekend camping on the beach in Kauai with strangers, who are now some of my favorite people, and swam under Wailua Falls. I spent a night under the most stars I’ve ever seen during a meteor shower, listening to a new friend play guitar around a campfire at the North Shore on Oahu, Hawaii. 

There’s something about experiencing once-in-a-lifetime moments with people that bonds you. The friendships I made during my study abroad experiences are now some of the strongest relationships I have. And the memories from my time abroad are my most cherished. 

Knowing that life can be so wonderful makes me hopeful that I will go on just as amazing adventures in the future. 

So, as my graduation comes at what feels like an unprecedented speed, I feel more prepared for adulthood than my 18-year-old self could have ever dreamed. That is not to say I’m not nervous for graduation — I am. But, I know I am prepared and excited to handle whatever life throws at me. 

In my Hall of Fame era