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A Love Letter to TCU

This is the Facebook status I posted a little over one year ago, announcing to the world that I had accepted my offer of admission from Texas Christian University. I was nervous to be moving to Texas (going away for college is very different for Hawaii kids since out-of-state is an entire ocean away!), I was excited for everything that was soon-to-be during my college experience, and I was heartbroken to leave the home I love with all of my soul. I was ready to be around other college kids and I was so thrilled to delve into college-level academics. I had my whole life in front of me and I felt like the world was at my feet.

The first real interaction I had with TCU students was at my Frog Camp, which is a First-Year Experience program that runs the summer before the school year starts. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Frog Camp Mystery, where crazy-fun, unforgettable memories were made on the urban streets of ever-beloved Chicago, Illinois. We walked many hot miles, got our Frog Camp Director into Pokemon Go, and forged strong, genuine connections. Frog Camp pumped me up, to say the least. After Frog Camp, I wasn’t nervous anymore. I was ready to go and so psyched to take on TCU. My hopes were high and my mind was open.

My freshman year was up and down, as most students’ first years are. The highs were high and the lows were low. I didn’t come in expecting to depart after a brief year. I believed that this is where I would stay for the next four years of my life, and I lived that way, too. Living like TCU was definitively my undergraduate institution is one of the best choices I’ve made. During the first half of my first semester, I was so dedicated to studying that I didn’t have many friends (remember the infamous “pick two” triangle that all college students know… grades, social life, or sleep? I picked grades and sleep). I will say that I put a lot more effort into my first semester, and I miss that me who was so dedicated to studying… but super-overly-dedicated me was also very unhappy. I found friends after I got sick of just studying 24/7 (I kid you not, over Halloween weekend the only thing I did was study. The. Whole. Weekend). I tested new study habits, cut certain things out of my life, and introduced new things, too. I’ve had to make some hard choices to find how, where, and with whom I could flourish and be the best version of myself.

TCU has brought out some of the best in me. I’ve found myself in situations where I’ve had to stand up for what I believe in or what I think is morally correct. Being here—experiencing what I have here—has helped to strengthen my belief in myself. I’ve always been strong-willed, but I can now truly say that in moments of difficulty, I try to do what I think is right. I’ve made bold political statements. I’ve taken courses and met people that have challenged my stances. Because of everything that has taken place at TCU, I’ve grown, and I am more ready to take on the world thanks to all of it.

I’ve made some good friends and I’ve made some bad friends. I’ve done what’s right and I’ve screwed up, too. I’ve questioned myself and I’ve almost made choices that weren’t representative of who I am. I’ve failed tests and I’ve aced tests. I’ve had a few too many mental breakdowns and I’ve cried a bit more than I would have liked, but I’ve also made some of my most pure, joy-filled memories here and I’ve begun to truly live unapologetically. It’s all part of the learning curve.

It was on Friday, May 5th that I found out that Barnard College of Columbia University was offering me admission. That Friday was a terrible day. It was one of my lowest points emotionally, I was mentally exhausted (and in turn, physically exhausted), and finals were approaching fast. In one week, I would be moving out of my dorm and flying home, and my plans for the next semester were up in the air.

That Friday was one of my lowest lows.

Then I saw the email, and I. Flipped. Out. When I finally opened my admission portal and saw the “Congratulations!” at the top of the page, I started crying. I kid you not, I flat out burst into tears.

That Friday was one of my highest highs.

I was—and am—so unbelievably excited. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m not about to pass up what I’ve worked so hard to earn—but that doesn’t mean I’m not sad to leave.

It all happened so fast. Within an hour of finding out the admission decision, I had submitted my deposit. That is a lot of commitment in an extremely short period of time. Only now is it finally beginning to actually sink in.

I am overwhelmingly sad to leave my friends here. Without them, my freshman year might have been much worse … but I do have them, my freshman year has been great, and I am so thankful for them. They call me out when I’m wrong, they encourage me when I do something good, and when I’m proud of something I’ve done, they’re proud right along with me. We’ve had so many laughs and countless good memories—and, yes, even some bad ones along the way. Though I’ve only known them for such a short while, I wouldn’t be who I am right now without them.

So, here I am, a little over a year since that original Facebook post, wrapping up my freshman year at Texas Christian University with plans to head to New York City and attend Columbia in the fall. It has been one crazy week, and one crazy year on top of that, but I wouldn’t give any of it back. Not a single moment.

TCU, I love you.

I love you for all the good things you have provided me and I love you for all the bad things you’ve thrown at me. I am who I am because of everything I have experienced and all the choices I’ve made here. I could not have done it without you, TCU, and you will always hold a very special place in my heart. I’m going to miss your yellow brick buildings and your ever-rotating-but-never-out-of-bloom flowers. I going to miss the spray of Frog Fountain on those especially windy days and I’m going to miss Pasta Wednesdays at the BLUU. I’m going to miss the countless squirrels that never cease to intrigue me (what can I say? There aren’t any squirrels in Hawaii) and I’m going to miss the TCU Fox, who owns this campus once the sun sets. I’m going to miss the students who are friendly even if you don’t know them. I’m going to miss the school spirit. I’m going to miss everything about you, TCU. This may be my final farewell as a student here, but I promise, I will forever be a Horned Frog.


Texas Christian University, this is my love letter to you.

Originally from the island of O'ahu, Hawai'i, Kalena is a member of the Class of 2020 here at TCU. She loves animals, books, nerding out with her friends, science jokes, and people who make her laugh.