*Only 3 months ago, one of our Alumni graduated from USC Hybrid High and now she has already begun her freshman year at Cornell University. Below is a blog post written by her sharing about her first week of school, all of the emotions around it, and the hard work and preparation that it takes to get there. Staff, thank you for your hard work that allows our students to have life-changing experiences like this. For our Ednovate staff who are awaiting the day of your first graduating class, you have so much to look forward to!

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August 18, 2017. When I was driving up on Friday morning, I couldn’t believe that my summer had already come to an end; summer had literally flown by. For me, move-in day began at 6am with my mom, two younger sisters, and a family friend who we had to pay to drive us. It would be a four hour drive up to Ithaca, New York: the trip that marked the first time my mom and sisters would see my new home.

Around 10am, we came across the campus of Cornell University. Yes, it might have felt like we were in the middle of nowhere for the last hour, but a combination of new and old buildings approached our sight. As I became familiar with some buildings, I looked at my mom and told her, “Esta es la escuela que escogi: Cornell.” She would finally get a chance to see the campus where I felt that I belonged when I visited alone back in April 2017. My mom would finally get a chance to see the campus that I, her eldest daughter, committed to.

Just passing by the building, I thought back to the moment I knew I had to come to Cornell. It was a choice that many would consider crazy, but I had to take the chance to explore something new. As an immigrant, I would not let any idea or person prohibit me from taking a chance -- my best chance to become independent and learn in a completely new environment. Move-in day was just one of those steps I took. Mews Hall was now home. 

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To be totally honest, we passed my hall twice. Before turning into the hall, I got a warm welcoming from a joyful alumni, “Congrats, and welcome to Cornell, your new home!” I felt the power of every word he said and thought again, ‘This is why I said yes.’ My mom had received her positive affirmation that any parent longed for, and we were all excited for the next phase of my life. We parked, unloaded, and I checked in and got my keys. We got my things and started to head to my room. However, two things happened before we finally made it: one, we were on the wrong floor, and two, we were on the wrong side. When we finally found the dorm, we started to make my room come to life. Later, I went to pick up my ID, where I would come across various booths and information, and apply for work study. As we drove back up to my dorm, I had decided that it was time for our goodbyes. We were missing one person in our family: my dad. This transition had been difficult already without my dad, but saying, “See you soon” was also difficult. There were tears and the “I love you.” Before I knew it, they were off. 

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With the strength I built up, I went to my dorm. My suitemates were barely moving in, and I introduced myself. Around 3, I took my first Cornell test: a swim test, which I passed! From the ice cream social, my first RA meeting, orientation leader meeting, and first-year first night, I was able to meet a lot of people. The next three days would involve required events like the Student Convocation bright and early at 8:45am, Identity and Belonging Project, and College of Arts and Science meetings. The day right before classes started, I met with my peer, academic, and faculty advisor. The resources and people were out there, and it was up to me to get the support and check in.

August 21. First day of instruction. I have 3 classes back to back, and I managed to have my classes start at 11:40am. I have already started taking classes to meet the requirements of my Spanish major, and I have already attended classes in Anthropology and Sociology to decide my second major. I currently have to drop one class since I am at 19 credits, but I don’t want to drop any because I really love the classes. I also have homework and a handful of readings to get ahead in. I have a great group of friends who I have had the pleasure of enjoying lunch and the nice weather with while the chime bell played Harry Potter: Hedwig’s Theme. I have enjoyed our great dining areas and arrived soaked one night from the drastic change of weather where it began to pour rain. The trip to the Gorges and the famous dairy bar have also been unforgettable. I have started to make connections with some amazing people, and I know this is just the beginning of my next four years. Soon it will be 7 more semesters left. However, before I know it, I will be back home for winter break, probably not missing the cold Ithaca weather, which I have yet to experience. 

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