“In what ways do you think you’ll grow in college?” I asked this question ten times throughout the summer to the new freshman class of TCU. I heard typical responses like gaining domestic skills, i.e. laundry, or how they would grow academically. However, one response grabbed my attention, “How are we supposed to know how we’ll grow?” I remember pausing for a moment after the student asked me the question. I had to think about it myself. I responded with, “You’re right. You cannot truly know how you will grow, but I can promise you this; it happens quickly.
I had the pleasure of working with the First Year Experience staff as a 2014 Orientation Leader. I gained so many new skills, experiences, and connections. In the midst of the busy days, I looked forward to small group session time. Especially FROGS debrief. During this time, we asked the incoming students questions about their dreams and fears for their first year at TCU. I think many of the students thought we were teaching and reassuring them. Little did they know they were teaching and reassuring me.
I cannot pinpoint an exact time when my “college growth” began to happen. It occurred, and continues to occur, through a series of small events. It happens when a professor challenges you to think beyond the pages of a textbook. It happens between sips of coffee and discussions with friends. It happens when you realize it is okay to reach out and ask for help.
All of these instances make TCU a unique place. I could be in the happiest of moods or I could feel pretty crummy. Through any emotion, I know someone will always be there to support me. During one of the hardest days of my first semester, my roommate made me a canvas painting, my RA took me to lunch, and my English professor wrote me a note with words of encouragement. The support does not stop there. Those people continue to be an active part of my life.
The TCU community has fostered such an enriching and compassionate place of growth. It is inspiring. In fact, it is so inspiring; I continue to apply for positions that will enable me to act as a support system for others. This is what makes me proud to be a Horned Frog. I am constantly growing and changing. I’m grateful four years of my growth will occur at TCU.
Madeline Peña is a sophomore Journalism major and Spanish minor from Decatur, TX. She is involved with TCU Wesley, University Singers, Society of Professional Journalists and is the Associate Editor of the student publication, “The Skiff.”