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Stanford students jumping.

I Am Stanford: Selby Sturzenegger

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Stanford students jumping.


I got accepted to Stanford; therefore, I went to Stanford.  Doesn’t sound like much of a page-turner, does it?  But as I thought more about it, I decided that my story is more than the list of schools I applied to and more than my acceptance to the best university in the country.  Though my story does start with that acceptance.  Sitting on a hotel bed 3,000 miles away from home and trying to distract myself by watching a Law and Order: SVUmarathon after a day of competing at a swim meet, I anxiously waited for the clock to hit 6:00pm (and then I obviously waited for a commercial break to check my email). I’m sure you guys know what happened next: some unrestrained joy, some minor freaking out, hurried phone calls to family and close friends, and double checking to make sure I hadn’t misread the email.

Once I received that email, I was finished with the college application process (what a relief). I made my SUNet ID that night and accepted my spot to the Class of 2018 before Christmas. I survived a serious bout of senioritis and the longest summer of my life before making the lengthy trek (16.8 mile drive) to Stanford in the fall.

Though not geographically far from home, living at Stanford is like being in an entirely different world.  Like many of you, I was locked into a pretty solid routine in high school with school, extracurricular commitments, homework and sleep. There’s so much more freedom to decide your schedule in college. If you don’t want to wake up early, don’t take a 9:00am class. If you don’t want to take classes on Fridays, find classes that are only Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. While you won’t always be able to set your perfect schedule, at least you have the opportunity to try to make it work. I think that’s what I liked the best—knowing I was in charge of my routine. If I was tired and wanted to sleep in, I knew I could go to the gym after class instead of beforehand. If I had plans to see a guest speaker on campus, I could go to a dining hall with extended hours and eat later than usual. The ability to decide these kinds of things for myself was invigorating, and it made me excited to do the things I had committed to do.

I will admit to you guys that my transition to Stanford was probably easier than most. Yes, I live close to Stanford so I didn’t have to worry about the time difference or weather, but I also have an older brother who currently goes to Stanford.  Having him as a resource and friend during the first few weeks was key for me. We had always been really close, so seeing him once a week helped me adjust to the Stanford life. In high school, my brother and I had similar interests. We played the same sports, took the same classes (two years apart), worked on the school newspaper, and befriended the same teachers. We went to a small high school, so I was used to being known as “_______’s little sister” instead of “Selby,” or “Shelby” to those who didn’t know me well (in fact, even people who know me well still sometimes, accidentally, call me “Shelby” but that’s a whole different blog entry). I was determined in college to be my own person. I branched out and didn’t just do things that my brother said were cool; I found other clubs and activities to be involved in. I participated on the Club Swim Team, began working for the Alumni Association, became my dorm’s treasurer, and joined TriDelt. I have loved all of these things, and I think it was important for me to participate in aspects of Stanford that I had no idea about before I started.

One thing I wouldn’t let my brother have to himself, however, was the Axe Committee, Stanford’s spirit group on campus.  The Axe Committee goes to football and basketball games, promoting spirit by waving the flags, shooting off cannons, and handing out free T-shirts. We both love sports so having this club in common ensured that we would see each other occasionally. I like being my own individual, but I wasn’t going to let his participation in Axe Committee stop me from joining. I actually joined in part because of his encouragement; he knew I would like it, but he didn’t want me to be afraid to join because it was “his thing.” Sharing this experience with him over the past year has been awesome, and Axe Committee has been a highlight of my freshman year. I plan on pursuing it throughout my Stanford career.

I took on a lot of roles during my freshman year, something that I am really happy about.  I like being busy, and though, at times, it got stressful, I would never have wished to drop anything I had committed to. During one point in spring quarter, I remember calling my parents and telling them about all I had been up to, and they said, “That sounds great, but do you actually do school?”  We all “do school” at Stanford, despite the rumor that we just sit on the grass sunbathing all day (though we do that, too).  Stanford is all about finding balance. There will always be more reading, practice problems, and studying that you can opt to do, but college is about more than your classes. Finding clubs/organizations outside of your academic studies will make your Stanford experience a lot better. There’s so much to do at Stanford; take advantage of all of it.

And now, suddenly, I’m a sophomore. It seems like just yesterday that I was carrying my stuff up three flights of stairs to my quad in Roble, passing stranger after stranger. Many of those “strangers” became my friends. I’m excited to move to a new dorm next year and meet even more people, but I’ll treasure my freshman year friendships forever.

Selby Sturzenegger

Class of 2018

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