Family Away from Home: the Importance of Friendship

The month of November has been a roller coaster, with mixed emotions going all around. On Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 there was a mass shooting at Borderline, where 12 people were killed and many were injured. Following the tragic event, there were two fires which caused thousands to be evacuated from their homes. And following that, there was a lockdown at the Thousand Oaks Cal Lutheran campus. So many emotions were going around all at once, that many of us didn’t have the time to sit down and even think about how we were feeling. And even then, it’s difficult to explain to others how we’re feeling, especially if they didn’t experience it all with us.

With the holidays coming up, especially Thanksgiving, it’s important to think about everything there is to be thankful for, even during hard times like these. For a lot of us, that’s family, whether that be our blood relatives or our friends who have quickly turned into our family away from home. A friend group that has stood out to me as a writer has been this unique group of friends:

  • Diana Melgar: Junior, Business Administration major with a minor in Legal Studies from Los Angeles
  • Enrique Marroquin: Freshman, Double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice with a minor in Spanish, from Los Angeles
  • Eric Mejia: Freshman, Psychology major from Los Angeles
  • Jose Casillas-Cobian: Sophomore
  • Karla Melgar: Sophomore, Sociology major from Los Angeles
  • Karyme Lara Chagoya: Sophomore, Double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice with a minor in Spanish, born in Mexico and raised in Colorado
  • Katarina Lopez: Sophomore
  • Kelly Melgar: Sophomore

Diana said just how thankful she is for having such a supportive friend group at Cal Lutheran. She mentioned how fortunate they have been to find each other and connect on so many levels. All of them are first-generation college students, so they’re all on the same boat which is helpful for them when things get scary, as they can help each other figure things out. Diana said how they support each other through not only their successes, but also their failures.

Enrique said he is thankful for having these beautiful people as his friends, because they make him laugh and he just loves spending time with them. He said he is thankful for their friendship because these are the people he hangs out with the most, and he loves them because they’re already like his family.


Eric mentioned that he’s most grateful toward his parents for coming to the United States undocumented and for them now being legal. Because of his parents’ hardships, he and his siblings have been allowed to get an education for themselves. Eric described how much his parents sacrificed in El Salvador; they had to sacrifice everything they had over there to come here, and he said he'll never understand what they’ve been through.  Eric said his parents really like school, but they didn’t have a choice other than to help their parents or grandparents. He is glad that his parents have given him the opportunity to get an education; Eric wants to make them as well as himself proud. To Eric, the importance of friendship is balance with everything; whether that be balance of communication, support, and even just the little things one does for their friends. Even if it’s just buying them a meal, it’s something we all remember and it can go a long way. A friendship that reciprocates things is a balance of empathy within the relationship. It’s all about being able to help your friends. That is exactly how Eric said he feels with this group of friends, he mentioned how much he loves them. He enjoys being able to live on-campus, do homework/study and then leave to go hang out with them.

Karla stated how this year, she is thankful for having her family and friends; with the recent events that have happened in the CLU community, she is thankful that she had her family and friends by her side. She feels that their friendship has really grown this year and that they’ve found a new respect and even more trust with one another. They went through this experience together, and she’s glad that they were there for each other. Over all, Karla is grateful for their friendship and this family that they have created at CLU.

Karyme talked about these past few weeks being filled with many lows and a few ups. During a time of crisis, many people rely on their families for comfort, but for her, it’s not easy to do that, especially when she’s two states away from home. Karyme mentioned how she was able to go through this past week with the help of her little family here at Cal Lu; “I knew that I could rely on them, and I knew that we were all going to get through the week together.” She says how they all stayed up together on Wednesday and Thursday night. They all continuously checked on each other to make sure they were all doing okay, they stayed together through everything. They went to LA for the weekend and kept checking on each other and still got together to do things to get their minds off of everything that was going on. Karyme says how much she feels that they’re really a family, “we have the tias and tios who are always trying to be chismosos, we have the tias who make sure you’re eating, we have the tios who are always making everyone laugh; basically, every kind of person that you see in a Latino family, I can guarantee that we have them in our little group.” Since they’re all first-generation students, she says they all understand why it’s important that they’re all pursuing their education as well as keeping each other on track. They’re always asking each other how their tests went, talking about their grades, and sharing good news with each other! 

“I think that it’s so important to find that group where you feel like you belong. Where you feel like after a long day, you can come to your room and you know that they will be there for you, ready to make you laugh or ready to watch a movie. Where you feel like someone is always taking care of you, and they won’t let you do anything stupid… by yourself. Where you feel like when you need someone to listen to you about anything, they will all sit there and do it. Where you feel like you have that support system for anything and everything. It’s important to find a friendship where you feel like you have found your home, away from home, and luckily, I have found mine.”