College is an exciting and scary place.
When we get here, especially if we go to big schools or out-of-state schools, we don’t really know that many people. It’s a chance to start over fresh.
So, as we start going through these new experiences, we bond with people over our joys and our struggles. Being thrown together into this new environment, forging this new frontier creates quick bonds and strong bonds.
It’s weird. I’ve only known these people around me for eight months at most, but it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. They have become my family away from my family.
However, I HAVEN’T known them my whole life, and we each had whole stories that formed us before we got here. So, although someone may be one of my best friends, even he or she has stories for me to listen to and learn from.
Maggie Kuzemchak is one of these friends.
I met her at the beginning of my first semester. I don’t think I became good friends with her until late October, early November. It all seems so long ago, I don’t remember.
If you saw my posts from last semester, you might know that my grandfather, one of my heroes, passed away last November. That day, I was torn up, and Maggie was one of the people at my side.
Since then, we’ve been through so many things together, and it feels like we know everything about each other. But we don’t. So I decided to find out her story.
The story of Maggie Kuzemchak
Unlike Anjali Abraham, Maggie only applied to one school- Penn State. It had a good forensics program, which is her major, it was a good distance from home and it was a good size.
Her time here has changed her, as I’m sure it has changed many of us. However, it changed her in a surprising way.
Additionally, it’s helped her to make friends with different types of people because she grew up in a not very diverse high school, and it’s taught her to be more accepting.
Between just the two of us, we can see the difference. I always talk about the lack of diversity here, while she has never seen so much of it, and we can bond over those differences.
Even though she’s a “blonde haired, blue-eyed,” short “white” girl, Maggie still believes she can add to the diversity she hears in the “We Are” because of the acceptance that she’s learned and the experiences she’s had.
“Even though we don’t all know each other, and there’s way too many people for us to know each other, and we all have such different things, still we all are here for an education and we all love Penn State,” Maggie said when explaining the cheer’s significance to her. “It helps me express how much I love it here.”
Although she loves it here now, there was the chance that Maggie would have difficulty going hours away to college. She said she used to get separation anxiety when she would leave her family and her mom.
However, Maggie was lucky enough to put that anxiety to the test prior to graduating high school
Maggie and her friend created the Chinese club at her school and won a trip to China as a reward. Since she was young, only 15, the tours kept her in pretty Westernized areas of China.
Even so, she still had people coming up to her and taking pictures, probably because of her light hair.
Despite being sheltered, Maggie gained a valuable lesson during that trip away from home.
She learned that she could be away from her family for an extended period of time, and she would still be alright.
“It helped me when I first came to Penn State, I wasn’t worried that I wasn’t going to be ok without my parents,” Maggie said. “It’s made me see that if I put in the effort to do something, it can really happen.”
Another thing Penn State has taught her is to be passionate.
“Before coming to Penn State, I wasn’t passionate about anything,” Maggie said.
Then Maggie joined Project Haiti and got to visit the orphanages in Haiti over spring break. She came back fired up.
“Just being in Project Haiti helped me realize the privileges I have as who I am and how I can’t change who I am and the life I have here in America,” Maggie said. “But I can change the way I live to use those privileges I have to benefit other people.”
These passions that she’s developed all feed into the campus “We Are.”
They also provide a lesson.
Throughout the interview, Maggie would say she didn’t have anything interesting to say, any crazy accomplishments. Yet, when she dug deep, she came up with stories that helped characterize her, stories that were able to teach me things, stories that have an intrinsic value.
This has been the theme of this blog, and I think that, as our blogging comes to an end, Maggie provides a perfect example of it.
Everyone has a story, and, by coming to Penn State, everyone is contributing to the story of the “We Are” in some way, whether they know it or not.
As Penn State students, it’s our duty to realize this. We should be aware that everyone around us has a valuable story, and we should keep in mind that we, too, have value and that our actions are linked with the story of Penn State.
What is your story, and how are you contributing?
Thank you for following along these months, and I wish you luck as you continue weaving your story together for the rest of your life.