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I Am Stanford: Zoë Barley

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Zoe Barley and Friends

Content Warning: Eating Disorders

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out to the National Eating Disorder Association by calling or texting (800) 931-2237. You are not alone.

Hi everyone, my name is Zoë (she/hers) and I am a part of the wonderful orientation coordinator team this summer. My college experience has been anything but traditional. I graduated high school in 2018, moved to Southern California to pursue a career in professional dance at what I thought was the university of my dreams. My first year at school was really hard, I was incredibly homesick and found myself constantly obsessing over my relationship with food and exercise. When I returned home for the summer after my first year I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and not medically cleared to return to school. That summer was far and away one of the most difficult periods of my life, but thankfully, with the help of an incredibly supportive group of friends, family, and medical professionals I was able to begin my journey towards recovery. I took the fall of 2019 away from school to focus on my health, but by the time winter rolled around I was itching to get back into the classroom. I transferred into the University of Colorado and matriculated as a full-time student in January of 2020. You all know what happened next… COVID-19 sent school online and just when I was starting to feel like I had my feet under me once again, I got knocked to the ground. 

After about a year of online class I was certain Zoom school was not the right place for me to be having my college experience. So, I decided to take some time off and try to transfer for a second time–what can I say, I just really love filling out the Common Application. I applied to 6 schools on the East Coast…and Stanford. I genuinely had no hope that I would get accepted to Stanford so when the confetti came pouring down on my screen I thought it was pretty rude of them to put confetti on the rejection letter. After reading the letter about five more times and seeing my mom start to cry, it finally sunk in; I was headed to Stanford. 

Transferring to Stanford was the best decision I have ever made. The transfer community at this school is made up of some of the best people I have ever met. While Stanford certainly has a lot going for it, I will argue until the day I die that the people at this school are far and away its greatest asset. Prior to this past year I had never felt at home at a college, but as I sit on Meyer Green reflecting on why I am Stanford it is clear to me that this is where I am meant to be. As someone who has been to her fair share of colleges, I feel confident in saying that no school is perfect. But I also feel confident in saying that if you authentically open yourself up to everything Stanford has to offer, you will find a place here. In spite of my rather nontraditional Stanford experience, I am Stanford and I promise, you are too.

Zoë Barley

Psychology & Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Transfer, Class of 2023

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