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Two students sitting on a red couch with a sign saying "Talk to me about anything."

I Am Stanford: Nico Lozano-Landinez

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Two students sitting on a red couch with a sign saying "Talk to me about anything."


Brace yourselves. Actually, don’t. This year should be one of epic exploration, a year where you do whatever feels right, whatever will make you happy. You have been given an opportunity to be at a place that allows for failures, accomplishments, upsets, and inspiration as you’ve never experienced it before.

That is exactly what my freshman year was for me. I stopped thinking of the things that I too often believed I SHOULD do, and focused on exactly what I wanted too. For me, that meant embarking on the journey to becoming an officer in the U.S. Army, establishing relationships with people who I can honestly say are the best friends and people I have ever met, and oh yeah, taking classes.

The reason I say that last one so nonchalantly, is because you should not, not, NOT (did I say not?) be worried about classes at Stanford. “But Nico, we’re in college to learn and to take classes, to get smarter, to become professionals.” You’re right. But I believe that the most important class in life is actually living life. There is nothing like it. Yes, I did my due diligence as a Stanford student, I took the multivariable calculus, the electrical engineering course, the computer science class that often felt like some 21st century torture technique. But when I think back at my freshman year at the best place on earth, I think of the 3am conversations with my closest friends and random strangers, the Lake Tahoe Ski Trips and my spring break trip to Utah and Mexico, of traveling due to the Army, of jumping out of planes, and my unbelievable relationship with my roommates. The caliber of the people that I have met while at the Farm is the primary reason why I’ve had the ability to be so happy in such a tough environment.

I didn’t believe that my college experience was going to be as life-changing as it actually was. I was born in Bogota, Colombia but grew up in the suburbs of Miami, Florida for most of my life. I was used to travel, used to experiencing new cultures, used to new people. I thought that I had it all figured out, that I was a grown adult with clear goals, a strong sense of belonging, and an abundant amount of intrinsic motivation. But after juggling 5am wake ups five days a week for Army training, a worrisome academic load, and a complex social life, all of those aspects that I had “all figured out” seem to blur and change. The goals aren’t as clear, the sense of belonging sometimes becomes questionable, and there are nights where you are all out of motivation. Sleeping an average of 4-5 hours a night didn’t help either.

It is true that there is a sense of beauty in this struggle, that there is something amazing about being so busy and having the ability to experience so much. It erases your limitations, shows you where your weaknesses lie and it teaches you so much more than ‘playing it safe’ ever could.

Looking back on the past year, there is a sense of euphoria and clarity. I have grown more in one year than I have in my last 18 years of living as a teenager under my supportive family. I have grown to become financially independent, to make real-life choices, and to become more knowledgeable, academically and in life. Being at Stanford has opened doors that are reserved to a privileged few, opportunities that I am sure you will be able to take advantage of in your own time here.

Stanford feels like a dream. I don’t think that Stanford will ever stop feeling like a dream. But is that a bad thing?

Nico Lozano-Landinez

Class of 2018

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