One of the first classes I showed interest in when I registered in the summer for my first semester at Texas A&M was “First Year Photo Project.” This class “enables first year students to intentionally document their personal transition to Texas A&M University through guided photography, internal reflection and communication with others; this project will challenge its participants to examine personal identity, their future hopes and dreams, their uncertainties, and what Texas A&M means to them.” With that brief little description, hopefully you can get an idea as to why it sparked my interest. All year I have been doing journal entries for this class and have wanted to put them into a blog, but have just never taken the initiative. With a two hour nap behind me, at 3:40 a.m., I feel that I should use my time “wisely” and finally start a blog… I’m not sure why I think someone will find me interesting enough to ever read it, but here goes.
This was my final journal entry written for my FYPP class:
Why did you choose Texas A&M University? Where did you come from? What do you do? What defines you? These are the questions that were asked the first few weeks of school to the point where you couldn’t even keep straight the people that you had met and learned about. I feel that I have finally settled in to my classes, started meeting friends, and all of a sudden, it’s about to be a whole new experience with all new classes in the spring. Every day I am presented with opportunities to try new things and meet new people, and I try to take full advantage of it.
So, who am I? I am still Chaney Barton (people started knowing me as “Chaney,” rather that the “Aaron” that shows up on rosters and on my ID). Thankfully, that transition was easier than I thought it would be! I am still the small town girl, and I have found that when I start to tell people about the number of extracurricular activities I was able to be involved in at my small school, they think that I am some kind of priority-balancing super woman. My “East Texas accent” tends to jump out every now and then, and my Corpus Christi native roommate adores the way I speak. I just think back at home everyone was used to my voice. My six best friends from high school still mean the world to me. I take my family for granted a little bit less every day, because I have learned that being so far away from them is a little bit harder than I thought it would be. My best friend through middle school became my boyfriend in high school and now, in college, he is the most supportive person that I know. I still love him, even if he is going to Texas Tech in the fall. I am surrounded by people who share my values in beliefs in my sorority, and people who share my dream within my major. Most importantly, the number of facebook friends that attend Texas A&M University with me has grown to a staggering number… that’s important, right?! Texas A&M has just made me more appreciative of what I left behind in my small town, and more anxious for what my future holds.
Looking back on my second journal entry, I found that I described A&M to an outsider in the same way that my fish camp described Texas A&M to me: traditions, traditions, traditions. But, spending a semester here has taught me that it is SO much more than just tradition. For the first time in my life, I am surrounded by people who are truly passionate about their future and their education. Every day, I walk past countless numbers of people and over hear them talking about test grades, projects, reports, graduate school, and studying. I feel that it is so different from what was important in high school. I feel that my extracurricular activities in high school defined who I was, and that the actual education was often put off. Obviously people did well enough to get into universities, but I feel a lot of times my main priority over studying for a test was dance team practice. If I would have studied in high school like I study now in college, I might have just been a priority-balancing super woman GENIOUS. I love that I am now surrounded by people who are so focused on school. Texas A&M University, above all, is about building a future.
So, what has changed since I wrote my first two journal entries? Seasons have changed. I have failed, and I have succeeded. I have met new friends and strengthened relationships with old ones. I have stayed pulled all-nighters and put off studying. I learned a little bit more about what Texas A&M University is all about- education. I feel like I learn a little bit more about myself each day, but honestly, I don’t feel like I have changed as a person all that much. If anything, I just have my future a little bit more planned out. Texas A&M University has become less of a dream, and more of a reality. It is now my home.
As I move out of this first semester and into this second semester, I feel a lot less nervous about navigating this huge campus. I feel a lot more confident in myself, even though I am surrounded by thousands of great students who will all have great careers one day. As far as my leadership development goes, I feel that for the first time I am really being challenged to get out there and lead so that I can set myself apart. Leadership opportunities present themselves every day, and I’m still seeking what I am truly passionate about. I feel that Texas A&M University is unique in its aspects of networking and I think that it’s something that will help me greatly in the future. Most of all, Texas A&M University will be something that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. I will wear an Aggie ring, dress my kids in maroon, tell stories about my sorority sisters, attempt to describe the indescribable deafening noise of Kyle Field, and reflect with pride the time that I spent at the most wonderful university on earth.