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What I Love About…Boise State (Final Thoughts From a Soon-to-Be Graduating Senior)

If you’re reading this, first of all, thank you. Because, if you’re reading this, then there’s a decent chance you’ve read some other things that I’ve written over the last year or so. Perhaps you’ve read 5 ½ ways to connect with people or even everything that I love about fall in Boise.

And while this isn’t my last article I’m going to write for Student Life before I graduate in the spring, it is one of them. And as I commit full-time to student teaching next semester, the amount I write and time I spend on campus is going to shrink to very little.

So, in some ways, I feel like my Boise State adventure is, sadly, ending a little earlier than some of my peers. I figured for one of my final articles, I’d try to articulate, as somebody who is at the very end of their journey as a Bronco, the top few things, that I love about Boise State, as they’ve helped me blossom into the happiest, healthiest version of myself I’ve ever been. I’ll try my best because, in all honesty, it’s very hard to describe how thankful I am for Boise State.

Learning that changing your mind is okay

When I started my first year of college at 19 years old, not even six months out of high school, I was certain I knew exactly how the world worked. I was certain I completely knew who I was and what I wanted to study and which career path I wanted to take. And, ironically, I love that I shed so much of that certainty over the last four years.

For example, I did something I never imagined myself doing at the start of college by switching my major halfway through my sophomore year. This was a daunting task. I’m an admittedly stubborn person and changing my major was something I was confident I’d never do. But despite telling everyone I knew that I would, “never, ever change my major”, I ate my own words and did just that. I’m so happy that I was given the room and the opportunity to discover what I was actually passionate about. And had an incredible team of academic advisors and professors to help walk me through the process. I know now that I’m on a path in my academic career, and in life, that I’m supposed to be on. Even though it’s definitely not what I initially imagined!

Trying new things and saying “yes” even when it feels scary

I’ll never forget making the long drive from western Washington to Boise a few days before move-in my first year. I remember how nervous I was that I knew pretty much nobody at Boise State. My stomach turned in knots the whole drive, nervous that I wasn’t going to find friends and community that I cared about in the same way I cared about my closest friends from high school.

Thankfully, I love the friendships I’ve formed over the last four years, something I wrote all about in one of our Finding Inspiration articles just a few weeks ago. In it, I talked about how I made some of my earliest friends in college just by saying “yes” to certain offers and opportunities. Looking back at it all now, I also love how many different groups and circles I’ve been able to be a part of.

Needless to say, I think my first-year self would be ecstatic to see all the communities I’d end up being a part of. From my first-year dorm friends, to class friends, to fraternity and sorority friends, to my pickup basketball friends, to friends from work, I didn’t find my group of people. I found my groups of people.

Finding work I’m passionate about

Speaking of work, I love my jobs. Aside from working here, I worked as a Student Recruitment Specialist in Undergraduate Admissions. In giving daily campus tours, I found an incredible set of friends that quickly became family and a part-time job that turned into a love of working with people that, once again, changed the trajectory of my professional career. There are few things that I love more than walking and talking with people around Boise State and it’s something I’m going to miss dearly. I can genuinely say there wasn’t a single day that I wasn’t excited to get up and go to work — all from a part-time on campus job that I found on Handshake.

Understanding how to prioritize my wellbeing

I love how healthy Boise State has allowed me to be, physically and mentally. I learned how to give myself grace and forgive myself for not being 100% perfect 100% of the time, much of which I attribute to investing time in therapy (an experience I wrote about in-depth in an article for Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month this year).

From biking and running on the Greenbelt or on the Ridge to Rivers Trail Network, hiking in the Foothills, or just hanging out by the Boise River, we live in a place that’s an outdoor lover’s dream. Just living here and having all of these outdoor resources inspired me to take up running again. During my first year at Boise State, I ran barely two-hundred miles the entire year. This year, I’m on track to run close to two-thousand. I don’t think I would have never invested in my physical health or found a passion for trail running if I hadn’t come to Boise State.

There was a Friday morning this fall where I was on a long run in Boise Foothills during the early morning. The sky was pink and orange as it lit up the lights below me of the Treasure Valley. It was still and quiet despite the bustling, fast-growing city below. And even from ten miles up in the hills, I could make out the Blue Turf at Albertsons Stadium where I was going to take a tour group of visitors in just an hour and a half. It was a beautiful photo I snapped at that moment and has been my iPhone wallpaper ever since.

I remember whispering, “Wow,” to myself before concluding, “This is my life as a full-time college student. Life is really rough.” (Sarcastically, obviously.)

Making space for joy

And finally, I love how genuinely happy I’ve become over the last four years. When I think back to myself in high school, I’ll be honest with all of you, I was an extremely negative person.

“This sucks. School sucks. The weather sucks. This traffic sucks. Life sucks,” was essentially my life mentality.

And it’s sometimes sad to think back to that time period because I didn’t know how good my life was going to get, or how good it could be. I credit this mental shift solely on Boise and Boise State. At the time, I didn’t know there was a beautiful university and incredible city full of optimism and people that looked at life as beautifully as it is; with the mentality that, despite all the challenges life throws at us, “life is good”.

On many daily campus tours I’ve given over the years, I’ve sat perched at Friendship Bridge with a big group of prospective students and their families and talked about all of this. I told them, “No matter what’s going on in my life, even if I wake up and am having a bad day, stressed out about work or school or something, it’s okay. Because I’d genuinely rather have a bad day in Boise, Idaho, than any other place I’ve ever been.”

And that’s the truth. My quality of life has increased at least tenfold since the start of my college adventure. And I attribute all, if not most of this, to Boise State, which allowed me to grow and come into my own.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I adore Boise State. As someone whose college experience is almost over, my final piece of advice to anyone, no matter where you are in your college journey, is take it in stride and enjoy it. There will be some point in the future where you’ll look back and be nostalgic for this time — for the time and space to grow and change, meet people from all different walks of life, and enjoy the community, which is so unique to where we are.

Yes, I’m very sad that my days as a Bronco are numbered. But in that, I’m so thankful and happy that this is where I ended up for the last four years (and likely my entire life). I know I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t.

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  • Joey


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