Reflections of a College Graduate: my heart is full

*preface: if you're going to read this, I mean REALLY read it, please listen to these songs while you do:

I’d like to begin with a brief story. Thursday night I was out celebrating the end of classes with some of my wonderful friends. I received a voice mail from my mom and decided to listen to it on speakerphone. I was delighted to hear my mom’s voice singing Alice Cooper’s song that goes like this, “SCHOOOOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER”…(insert wicked guitar part)…”SCHOOOOLS OUT FOR EVER!” click here to hear it:

Alice Cooper Song of my childhood

Anyways, She even sang the guitar parts in the background. The best part about this is that every June since I was in about kindergarten, my mom would play this song in the car when she picked my sister and I up form school as loud as it could go. Then sometimes, we’d go home and have a celebratory BBQ with all our family friends and the song would still be playing. I’m happy to know some traditions never die, even at 22 years old.

The purpose of this collection of thoughts is to reflect on some important aspects of my college career, pay tribute, give credit where credit is due, and offer what I have learned to anybody who cares to listen, and discuss future plans. If you have the time, read it, if not, then don’t.
To begin with, I’ll never forget the first week of my freshman year of college when I was at Josie Hepner’s house. Josie has been a lifelong friend since about middle school. I distinctly remember a conversation we had in her new house on King’s street. We were talking about how cool it was to be in college and that it seemed like graduating was a far of reality that would never really exist. The concept of graduating and venturing onto the step after that seemed so overwhelmingly impossible, we didn’t want to think about it. I now embrace that future and cannot wait to see what lies ahead outside the community I have created in Corvallis. It is important to note that much of my lessons and experiences have little to do with the times I spent sitting in a classroom haha.

Much of the community I have connected myself with at OSU has been through the University Housing and Dining when I was a resident Assistant for two years and now a co-op director of Dixon Lodge, the all female coop on campus. Through these experiences I learned the value of hard work, patience, relationships, and what really matters. For that I am grateful for the experience of working for housing. I learned that rules are there for a reason but it’s ok to break some rules from time to time. Even though it was long hours of sitting at the desk, weekly meetings, and going on rounds, the friendships and connections I made through this job made it all worth it…Even when I had to clean shit off the walls…twice. At least I know what it’s like to work through college!

It was very important to me to have a life outside of my job for housing and a large part of that was filled by photography. I applied to work at the Barometer at the beginning of my sophomore year and my photo editor at the time, Andrew Burton, taught me basically everything I know about photography. I am very grateful for this experience and will continue to grow and take pictures into grad school, all the while learning about the business aspects to photography and selling my work and services: my website

i loooooove taking pictures

One of my favorite photographic techniques is to say something to make people laugh, then take pictures of their reactions to my jokes. Haha.

In the winter of 2008 I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to go to Argentina and Antarctica. If you’d like to see pictures and read about it, please go through this blog and search through it for more information about what I did, where I went, how amazing it was etc…. It has been 6 months since I returned from the South Pole and ever since then I have been meaning to write and share a segment about what I actually learned in Antarctica and not just sharing the experiences I had. I think 6 month has been a long enough time to wait so here goes…

The most important lessons I learned in Antarctica:

We all need a passion in life. The passion is number one, and then school comes next. There was a man on our ship who was obsessed with birds named Dmitri and I loved how passionate he was about sea birds. I have found my passions, now the goal is turning them into a career!

Live in the present always: The past is dead and the future doesn’t exist yet. Enough said.
Life is wonderful: I realized that the sound of two glaciers slamming together was the most amazing sound I’ve very heard in my entire life. The power of nature in Antarctica is overwhelming. I felt like I was on another planet and was humbled by the power that lay before me. The biggest epiphany that struck my friends and I was that nature is just as powerful at home as it was in the untouched land of the ice. For example, I thought about the tree that sits outside my apartment in Corvallis on the same day I photographed an iceberg. That tree bloomed crazy flowers and green leaves that totally blew my mind. The difference between the two is great, but also non-existent. Nature is powerful everywhere in the world; you just have to look a little harder to see the beauty sometimes. ☺

Don't waste time on petty judgments. It’s easy to get caught up in drama, gossip, and general bullshit that surround human interactions. We are all really different and it’s important to celebrate those differences, embrace diversity, and have an open mind about how others live their lives. I am far from perfect in this aspect, but it is very important to me that I am reminded constantly that other people view the world from their own lenses and their view is shaped by their experiences.

Antarctica friends!

Section to thank a few people in Corvallis/Scappoose/Portland for all they have done for me. I was just talking to Karen yesterday about how I throw the word "love" around like alot. I tell people I love them like you wouldn't beleive. Some might say there can be too much of a good thing, but with love it's diferent. The more people I have in my life to love, the better life gets, so I don't plan on quiting antime soon. There are so so so many people I want to see before I leave to tell them how much they mean to me. Chances are, if you're reading this, know that you're probably one of those people. I can't thank everybody, but I need ot highlight a few individuals who I care about immensly and I know they will be in my life for years to come.

Last night one of my best friends Matt Bradley threw me a surprise going away party with all my fantastic friends. I had no idea whatsoever and i was so surprised! It was the nicest thing anybody has ever done for me and I will never forget it. Thank you for coming if you were there and I can not wait until our paths cross again.

So here goes:

(If you haven’t figured it out by now, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve)

Mom, Dad, & Shelby: I owe you my whole world and more. I would be nowhere without you and I am eternally grateful for all that you have done for me. Thank you for your constant support through thick and thin. Here’s to cross country road trips, the dogs we love, always being there, making me walk at graduation, Scappoose, walks on the dike, and so much more. The love of family is unbreakable. Mom, Dad, and Shelby, I love You.

Matt Bradley & company: You genuinely got me through one of the toughest sections of my life. Without the support of you and your amazing friends and roommates, I seriously don’t know where I’d be. You listen when I need to be heard, offer advice when I’m being an idiot, and was literally always there for me. I will miss you more than I can quantify verbally. I Love you with all my heart and refuse to let you become a memory. You showed me the true value of friendship and helped me realize exactly what kind of life I deserve. Here’s to running, MGMT dance parties, walking to the liquor store, making a difference, talking to your cat, relationship advice, caring about politics, worrying too much for our own good, man hugs, family dinners, sports shorts, and so much more. I will never forget what you have done for me. Friends for life. Word. I love you.

Jake: Where the EFFFF do I start?! To put it simply: Sometimes I seriously can’t stand you but I don’t know what I’d do without you. I love you like a brother. We have always had our differences, even from the beginning. Fighting with you has been some of the most fun/interesting conversations I’ve ever had. You keep it real and never let me compromise on my beliefs. You challenged me and that’s what I needed. I love the intensity of your personality and would not want you any other way as long as you’re happy. I love our shared interest in ridiculousness including but not limited to: Beereal, Aquaware, honor student, having two cars, pretending we’re dinosaurs, making up untrue personalities on the phone, LAUGHING, being unnecessarily loud in public, getting drunk, shaving our heads for cancer patients, serious conversations, the tattoo you drew for me, not being hungry, then seeing you eat then making you cook for me, photography projects, and so much more that I’m forgetting. Here’s to the past four years and here’s to many more to come. You'll always be my one and only flower. I love you Jake.

Katie K.: Serious FP’s for life girl. I cannot imagine any other person in the world that I would rather spend a billion hours with in my car driving across the country. I promise to roll the windows down when I fart, and not judge you for the way you sneeze. I can’t wait to see what you do with your life. You are so genuine and kind-hearted. You’re the only person that I can look at and say “I hate you so much sometimes” and know that you know what that actually means. Haha enough said floor pear. You seriously need to relax sometimes. Get ready for the best summer of your life. I love you Katie.

Katy R: Your positive attitude and outlook on life inspire me to do more things, be happier and life life fuller. What I admire most about you is your smile, kind heart, your faith, an so much more. I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to spend so much time with you. You don't judge anyone. Thanks for that time at my beach house when you took care of me (you know exactly what I'm talking about). I can't wait to get in the car and just talk and talk and talk. I told Katie K last night that I would not want to be with anyone else on such a long tri and that goes the same for you. Please watch tis video: now that's cool.
Anyways I'll see you tomorrow at graduation. Here's to love, butt smacks, the beach, being ridiculous, random serious conversations about God and people, WILSON, and so much more. I love you Katy.

Holly Gordon: Can I haz? Jeepers I’m going to miss this girl. You have no idea how incredibly proud I am of you and all that you have accomplished. I would like to take the credit but I won’t because if you never met me, you still would have done amazing things with your life. I just know it. Here’s to fitting in small spaces, laughing at pictures of cats, dressing up in weird clothes and making a difference in the lives of others. I can’t wait to see what you do with AZA and the rest of your life. Keep dancing. I love you Holly

Estefi: Where the heck did you even come from?! Seriously princesa I had no idea what I did to deserve such a special person in my life. The short time we spent together was the unexpected gift of my senior year. I know we’ll meet again someday and I know it will be just as much fun and carefree as it was when you were here. Maybe in Oregon, maybe in Ecuador? Here’s to ladybugs, dragonflies, the color green, coffee, making you sandwiches, Spanish lesson, La Conga, Human factors, being burn victims, that night, and so much more. Love You Lots princesa. (That boy from your psychology class)

Nate Shattuck: Thanks for being in my life ever since the day you were jealous of my dinosaur sweatshirt in kindergarten. I love talking with you about music, life, poop, relationships, traveling, and so much more. Here’s to getting wasted at the beach, Eiffel-towering Ashley, tequila shots, riding bikes at 5am on the beach, blaming you for that time I threw up everywhere, sitting on my roof, eating in my kitchen, night walks, inside jokes, making fun of each other, road trips, and dog parks. All I can say is that you better get your ass out to New York because my car is in desperate need for a co-pilot and that seat is reserved for you and you alone. Make it happen Sexy. I love you Nate

Ben Powers: Most of our relationship goes without saying. I know we have each other’s backs forever and that will not change until the day we die. We have been through so much together and I am grateful to have you in my life. Here’s to camping, that blanket you always use, night walks, finding weird food to cook at my house, Sasquatch Music Festival 2008 & 2009, hot dogs, cheap alcohol, Arcata, Portland (and everything in between). I love you Ben.

Sam Baldwin: This video absolutely says it all: cool dance moves
Ironically enough, I write this to you on my last day of college when we met on your first day of college. Full Circle. I want you to know how much I admire your positive attitude towards life, your vegetarianism, and overall free spirit. You take crap from no one but do it with a smile. I solemnly swear that you, Athena, and I will go to the country fair before our lives end. It’s a promise. Here’s to Bloss, Unicorn door signs, your family, fish, flats, wine (rhyne), bike rides, hiking that mountain, climbing that tree, dogs, and summer. See you soon friend. I love you Sam

Joce Hepner: You’re really weird and I like that a lot. (here's an example) Your smile lights up a room and you make people’s lives better just by being yourself. We seem to be always fluctuating with whose life has the drama in it. You put up with my drama for more than one year and I’m very happy to say that it is over, in part, because of you. I genuinely appreciate all the times I’ve called you, said the same shit you’ve already heard, and listened anyways. I’m always here if you need anything. The strength of friendship blows all other BS out of the water and I’m grateful to call you friend. Here’s to birds, future tattoos, Cosmo, plants, coffee, art, being weird, and advice. I love you Joce
i realized there are no pictures of us together in college....WTF?!

Objects: Thanks also to these things: music, photography, Dixon Lodge, Outside, my blue bicycle, The Barometer, The MU, that tree I climb all the time, Newport, downtown, Falkor the Noble Wagon Beast (my car), tequila, Portland, Kelley Engineering Building, Psychology, weather, and simple living.

Ok that’s about it for me! In case you were wondering here is my future plans as follows. I am graduating on June 13, then getting in my car and driving across the country with some super cool people. I’ll drop them off in New York, finish the journey to Pennsylvania and work at Camp again in the Pocono Mountains as a division leader of middle boys at my beloved summer camp.
After camp I will begin the journey home but spend the month of august traveling back through the south and seeing places I’ve never seen. Some goals are this: Get Nate form NY and have a co-pilot, surf again in Virginia, eat some grits in North Carolina, see Spanish Moss in Alabama, Eat shrimp in Louisiana, buy a gun in Texas (jk) see the grand canyon at sunrise in Arizona, get celebrity status in Hollywood and so much more!

After the summer is over, I’ll be starting grad school at SOU in Ashland in the Master’s in Health Counseling Program, where I will eventually end up as a guidance counselor for youth. I’d also like to work in a homeless shelter and expand the photography business! I guess you could say that it’s all happening (Life that is).

You better believe that I’ll be updating this blog with random stories and photos. See the links below for more information. I’ll also begin a sort of “video blog” (see YouTube channel link) where my friends Katie, Katie, and I will fill you in on our crazy shenanigans on our cross-country journey! That’s it people sorry this is so long but I enjoyed writing it so I hope you enjoyed reading it!