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Why I Became a Terp: From VA to UMD

The day I got into the University of Maryland, I broke what had to have been a 20 year drought.

While students at my northern Virginia high school have gone on to further their educations at some of the top schools in the country, no one since the 90s has made their way to College Park.

Life is funny, because I had no plans on becoming a Terp. Sure I grew up watching the Maryland Cheerleaders perform at local competitions. My first competition was at Cole Field House! I even attended countless high school graduations in Xfinity Center. But I never saw myself here.

Me and my brother at Cole Field House circa 2001!

When it came time to apply for schools, I only considered one Maryland school, as an in-state safety. I applied to three Virginia schools and other colleges in the Mid-Atlantic region. I wanted to go away, but never be more than a car trip away from home. I had no plans on applying to the University of Maryland.

My mother was the one who basically forced me into it. She told me to just try and see what happens. So late December just a month before the cut off date, I finished my application. It was the last school that I applied to.

Flash-forward to late March of senior year. I had six college acceptance letters hanging on the refrigerator door, and one waitlist letter tucked in a kitchen drawer. And my heart wasn’t set on a single school.

Then three days before my birthday, I got the email from UMD with my admissions status. Within 24 hours I was a Terp.

Me At Freshman Orientation

I was pleasantly surprised. While I thought living so close to school would take away from the college experience, my parents had to remind me that UMD had everything I wanted. A school with an outstanding journalism school, diversity, and the chance to cheer at the Division 1 level.

But that’s not to say I wasn’t apprehensive about coming here. Despite living in Maryland my entire life, I had always went to school in Virginia.  That being said, no one from my school even considered applying to UMD. Only three kids from the entire county went to Maryland that year. I was nervous about going into the unknown, alone.

Not to mention it’s really weird to be from the DMV but not relate to anyone around you. People laugh at my 571 phone number, and I’ve had a lot of friends look at me funny when I say NoVa (Northern Virginia).

But for all the struggles of adjusting I’m so glad that I get to call myself a Maryland Terrapin. As much as I wish I could be having college adventures with my friends from home, I like the excitement of hanging out with my friends during breaks. I love getting to meet knew people. I get to make my mark with being hold to my past.

Going here has forced me to step out of introverted bubble and find my place. While it’s hard and sometimes I just want to see a familiar face, going to school alone builds character. It makes you appreciate home (even thought it’s 30 minutes away) and it allows you to be independent. I’m never tied to hanging out with one group because we went to high school together.

So if you’re a perspective freshman thinking about choosing to make College Park your home, remember that college is supposed to be full of growing pains, new experiences, getting out of your comfort zone. It makes you stronger, it makes you better. Who knew that the change of scenery I needed was in my back yard!?




Brooke Giles

Maryland '18

Brooke is from Clinton, Maryland and is a senior at the University of Maryland, studying Broadcast Journalism. A self-proclamied Pop Music enthusiast, she loves everything about music especially when it involves Beyoncé and hopes to work in radio or for a record company.
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