Throughout my college career so far, I have learned some of my passions in life. Although I thought I knew most of the things that make me happy, I have discovered two activities that truly make me smile: community service and studying abroad.
When I first came to OU, I had no idea about what activities to participate in, except for events going on within my sorority. I looked around for the first few months and couldn’t figure out what my niche could be at this school. In high school, I loved going to community service events, and on mission trips with my church. However, during my first year at OU, I couldn’t find community service events that I loved. I wanted to be involved with an organization who loved to help others in need. That’s when I discovered Soonerthon.
In March 2012, I participated in my first OU Dance Marathon, which is now called Soonerthon. I had no clue what to expect at this event, and only knew it was OU’s biggest philanthropy which raised money “For The Kids,” or (FTK). I arrived on the morning of Soonerthon with excitement in my heart and a motivation to stand for 12 hours all for the kids. With my sorority sisters by my side, we danced the day away and played with some of the sweetest and amazing kids you would ever meet. By the end of the night, I will never forget how much body, specifically my feet, ached with pain. However, when the Soonerthon chairs revealed the final total of over $100,000, the pain suddenly went away. I looked at my best friend and immediately began to weep. I couldn’t believe how much we had raised for these deserving children. That’s when it hit me: I wanted to become apart of this organization.
During the fall of my sophomore year, I applied, interviewed, and received a position on the Operations Staff of the new and improved Soonerthon. I couldn’t wait to get started and work with other people who loved this philanthropy as much as I do. After an entire year of planning and getting ready for March, Soonerthon 2013 was finally here. Once again at the final reveal, I was bawling over our final total of $196,034 all FTK. This year, I had the opportunity to serve on the Recruitment Committee of Soonerthon and once again had the experience of a life time. Since this was my second year of being apart of the giant Soonerthon family, I truly soaked up every ounce of it and when it came to final reveal, I couldn’t believe what I saw. We had raised $318,711.14. My heart overflowed with emotion. That’s when I truly felt like I found my home on campus, with these people raising all of this money FTK. Soonerthon has inspired me and my dreams in the future. I hope to either intern or work for Children’s Miracle Network or Hospitals in the PR department.
The other activity that I truly love is studying abroad. Before college, I had only traveled out of the country to Mexico and Costa Rica. I had never been to Europe, but I had a passion to go and experience the different cultures. However, during my sophomore year I received the opportunity to study abroad in Seville, Spain. My best friend and I decided to take a chance and go with students from different universities throughout the country to study Spanish in Spain. I was worried about so many things before going abroad, such as traveling to Europe with only my best friend or being pick-pocketed in the streets of Spain. In addition, my family had just decided to sell my childhood home and move into a condo a few blocks away. However, the excitement to study abroad conquered my fears and I forgot about everything I was worrying about.
After months of anticipation for this trip, we finally traveled to Seville at the end of last May. Although I had been away from my family for a month before, this was a new experience for me being over seas, and I felt bad not being there to help my family move. However, when we arrived in Spain, my whole world changed. People always tell you that you’re going to feel homesick and experience culture shock, but I was the exact opposite. Living and studying abroad in Seville made me never want to go home. I wanted to stay there forever, and keep living the relaxing, Spanish style of life. A few days before I came home, my mom even asked me if I was still coming back or staying there forever. After being back in the U.S. for a few weeks, I realized I had adjusted my lifestyle to some of the Spanish traditions. I learned so much about Spanish culture, life, and traditions while in Spain as well as discovered my passion for studying abroad. I also made life long friends through this activity, and will never forget the memories I made.
As a result of this trip, I decided to pursue this new love of mine, and thus became an alumni ambassador for my study abroad company. After learning about the other programs the company offered, I decided to study abroad again this upcoming summer in Dublin, Ireland with another best friend of mine. I look forward to learning about a new culture and once again, taking part in one of my passions.
Through both of these activities, I feel like I have found my place here on campus. Studying abroad and community service have become a part of my life that I continue to cherish every day. Without these opportunities, I would probably still be walking around OU’s campus without a clue of what I was interested in. I’m thankful for these opportunities, and hope to continue traveling abroad and volunteering at philanthropies after college. These activities will always be important to me because I’ve truly discovered two things that make me smile.
Originally posted at Megan Young - Gaylord Student