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Michelle Almonor: Meet A Her Campus Member

Michelle Almonor, 18-year-old and a Miami, Florida native, is a first year at the University of South Florida, pursuing a degree in marketing and considering double majoring in advertising. Her favorite pastime is shopping, whether it be at high end malls, outlet stores or thrift shops – she’s always on the hunt for that perfect piece. Her pastime lends itself perfectly with her dream career: a fashion buyer for the fabulous big name clothing giants such as Forever 21 and H&M, which she tells me with as much excitement in her voice as confidence and assurance. “Fashionista – point blank” is her self-proclaimed title, and opening her closest one can’t miss the barrage of wild prints and colors, and glamour is literally pouring out of her closet with her trays of jewelry and shelf of perfumes and lotions. Pulling a hanger from her closet she excitedly shows me her thrift store treasure: a colorful wooly cardigan that’s reminiscent of the hip-hop era. “I got this for like, three dollars,” she said proudly.

It’s evident that fashion and clothing is more than just self-expression to Michelle, but beyond her love of clothes is a maturity that’s unusual for her young age as she opens up about her first semesters at university. When asked about her hometown of Miami, she holds no nostalgia or homesickness and there are no pangs of wistfulness in her voice as we talk about the neighborhoods we are both acquainted with, as we are both from Miami. The very loose structure of university life agrees with her, and she has had no difficulty adjusting: clad in blue sweat pants, a plain black T-shirt and smart looking black glasses, Michelle already looks the epitome of a college student, especially since she is constantly glued to her laptop, customized in sea foam green – her “latest color obsession.”

The transition from Miami to Tampa was not a drastic one, but there are definitely differences that Michelle noticed. Coming from a diverse and fast-paced city she was quite at home at the large population of over 45,000 students at USF. With famous cites such as South Beach, Michelle said that the usual reaction she gets when she says where she’s from as an admiring “OMG, you’re from Miami?” she tells me with chuckle. She is however, still getting used to the nearby regions such as Clearwater and Bradenton, which she had never heard of before, as well as the new area codes. One thing that’s distinct to the Tampa region: the popularity of the “Wop,” a song and a dance that shares its namesake that blasts at most Tampa parties, as well as the “Wobble” which is a familiar dance that has graced many functions from house parties to school sponsored events.

Having taken courses at USF during the summer, Michelle definitely feels she has an advantage over newly incoming freshman who are just entering the USF campus for the fall semester. Besides having made new friends to start the semester with, she said the summer semester was an “eye opener” and gave her both prep for more hectic fall semester, and quickly dispelled myths that she had heard about college life like that all college students eat are ramen noodles, she said. The main gem of wisdom that she obtained was how important it is to get involved on campus. “You need to get involved,” she said, “otherwise you’re just taking classes.” Her hopes for the fall semester are to break out her comfort zone, to expand her horizon and to do something—anything—that she normally wouldn’t, like to run into a crowd and yell she said with a laugh. Her goal is to be the person who does things that she would normally stare at in incredulously as a spectator.

Michelle’s optimism is as bright as the colors that adorn her room and coupled with her mature outlook, there’s no doubt that she will make the most out of her college years – both academically and socially. Above her side of the desk in her suite’s common room is a pink poster: “Don’t hate me because I’m fabulous” it advises, and I wouldn’t dream of it. It’s evident that Michelle is a girl that knows what she wants, and knows how to make it happen—whether it be a career or a fashion-forward look—but doesn’t think too much into it. Life is like putting together outfits, “I don’t think about it,” she said with a humble shrug, “it just works.”

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