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Family—a word that can mean many different things to different people. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you are blood-related, but it can. Families come in all shapes and sizes. No matter who you include in your version of “family”, we all have one to be grateful for.

Since coming to college, my family has expanded a bit. I’m lucky enough to have two supportive parents and three energetic siblings (including my brother-in-law). As the youngest child, I watched my siblings grow up and head off to start a new life in college. I watched their “family” expand just like mine did. No matter who is included, the most important thing about family is that you’re there for each other. In life, you’re going to go through so many ups and downs that’ll throw you off of the singular track that you anticipated your life to take. I am lucky enough to have a family back at home and also to have found a “family” here at college that makes Chapel Hill feel like a second home.

Whenever I’m having a bad day, I find a quiet place on campus and call my parents or one of my siblings. Talking to them for as little as 5 minutes can easily turn my whole day around. I can also always count on my roommates to cheer me up. There’s no bad day that a movie night or a quick trip to Mapleview can’t fix. It’s easy to get caught up in your own world; I have done it plenty of times. But even on those bad days, it’s still important to remember what you have.

I just wanted to take a minute to say to my family—thank you. Thank you for always picking up the phone. Thank you for going with me to get ice cream for dinner. Thank you for always trying to turn a bad day around. Thank you for picking me up when it’s pouring rain, and I forgot my umbrella at home. Thank you for always letting me have a couple bites of the food you cooked. Thank you for sending me a picture of that cute dog you saw on your walk home. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for making life more fun. Thank you for being my family.

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Raquel McLeod

Chapel Hill

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