I’ve had the privilege of knowing Elliott Roldan since I was a first-year student at Boise State University. It was a small interaction, but left a big impact on how I viewed relationships in college.
I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t as confident or outgoing that first year of college as I like to think I was. I didn’t have as many college friends as I told my high school friends I did.
Maybe Elliott noticed this because one dreary February night in the Student Union Building bowling alley, packed full of other people and a light snow falling outside, he came right up and introduced himself to me. From that first interaction, I knew that he was the kind of person that I wanted to be friends with. He has the kind of personality that people, like myself, are drawn to. Personable, humble, hardworking, and responsible. And what I didn’t know then was that, despite growing up in an entirely different part of the country, we were very similar.
Elliott is from Mountain Home, Idaho, and is a senior studying Human Resource Management. For both of us, graduating high school and continuing on to Boise State was a symbolic jump between different chapters in our lives. As Elliot put it, “I felt like I was in a bubble in my small town and had been wanting to get out for a long time. I had no idea if that would be a job or college. It wasn’t until I had gotten accepted into [Boise State] that I had thought about life outside of high school. Walking across that graduation stage, and seeing my parents with proud looks on their faces, made me see that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to.”
This commitment to a strong work ethic is something that has remained consistent throughout Elliott’s college career. When I asked what one of his biggest accomplishments and things that he was proud of were, he talked about his independence. “It may seem like a small thing,” he said, talking about his ability to save up and live in his own apartment. “But for me, it meant a lot. I never had a lot of money personally growing up, so when I set a goal to move out of my parent’s house during my sophomore year in the middle of COVID, it was super relieving to be able to say I can afford my own apartment, own bills, and call it mine.” Now Elliott even lives with his longtime girlfriend and says that it helped him get through “the hard times of COVID.”
Elliott’s definitely used his time at Boise State well. He’s proven himself to be a true leader, becoming an executive board member in his fraternity, and in the Greek community as a whole. He’s got his eyes on internship opportunities, and he’s hoping to become, “a recruiter and eventual HR director for a big company such as Google, Micron, and Amazon.” And in my humble opinion, any big company would be lucky to have him.
But wherever he ends up professionally, one thing I won’t forget is the first interaction he and I had. It was indeed a small moment in a cramped bowling alley on a dark evening, but nonetheless a moment I have, for some reason, refused to forget.
Maybe it’s because I think it’s easier to look in the opposite direction when around other people. It’s easy to keep walking when you pass someone in the hallway or at the dining hall. It’s easy to look down at your phone at a party to avoid the awkwardness of meeting someone for the very first time. It’s easy to be comfortable. It’s easy to be content in the little bubble of our own worlds that we seem to float around in more and more.
Or, we can be like Elliott. We can go up to someone that we’ve never met — someone who clearly looks even more uncomfortable than we are — and introduce ourselves. We can ask where they’re from and bond over shared experiences. We can take the first, albeit slightly uncomfortable step, in building a friendship. A friendship that can last not only during our time in college but, potentially, long, long after.