I know I have shared a lot of not-so-happy memories from my childhood, but despite all the negative, I have always been a very positive and happy person. At the end of grade school I had a teacher nickname me “Smiley,” because he said I was constantly smiling. He was hired by the High School to teach AP Government and I had him my Senior year of High School. Even then, he still called me “Smiley.” In fact, I could not help but smile almost all the time. My smile is what I get complemented on most. Even now, people frequently remark that I am constantly smiling. When I studied abroad in college, I was approached by an elderly Greek Man who asked me if I knew of: “Miss Universe? Miss USA?” I said “Yes.” He then said I would be “Miss Smile.” That I had a wonderful smile.

I always loved being around children. As soon as I was old enough, I attended a Red Cross Babysitting training class. After that, my parents allowed me to babysit. I had always enjoyed evenings playing with babysitters while my parents were out. At age twelve I began babysitting and I quickly established many regular appointments.

When I was fourteen I began babysitting for a family where the husband and wife both tele-commuted. I watched their young son from 8am to 5pm while they worked. It enabled them to see him whenever they took a break and to enjoy lunches with him. I watched him every summer for five years straight. It was the best summer job I ever had! Certainly, the most fun!

We had so much fun together. I took him to swim lessons. I would often take him to the beach with his Grandmother, who also lived close by. We rode bikes. I took him bowling, to the movies, miniature golfing, and I taught him how to snow ski. I loved my time with him!

When I was in High School, whenever both his parents had to travel for work, I would stay with him. Sometimes for entire weeks at a time. I would drop him off at daycare before I went to school. I picked him up at the end of the day after school. Then I would take him home to play, make him dinner, put him to bed, and then do my homework before going to bed myself. It was exhausting, but fun.

I was that girl who was always babysitting. My friends all knew I loved being around children. Spending so much time with children solidified that I definitely wanted to have a family of my own someday. That I would love to be a mom. I looked forward to my regular babysitting appointments. I loved to shared cute and funny stories about my babysitting adventures.

In High School I was athletic and excelled academically. I was mostly in honors and advanced classes for my grade. I ran on Varsity Cross Country all four years of High School. I ran track and field for my first two years, but decided after that that long distance running on a track was dull and I preferred trail running. Upon my dad’s urging I joined the downhill ski team and discovered a passion for skiing. I raced on the downhill ski team all four years of High School. I loved being outdoors, enjoying nature and being physically active.

I was asked on my first date my freshman year of High School by a Junior on the Cross-Country team. We went out for Italian food the night before a Cross Country race. I dated several different guys my freshman year, but by the end of the year I had a realization. I was a Christian and my faith was the lens through which I saw the world and based my actions. I realized that non-Christians saw the world in an entirely different light and could not relate. I decided that I would only date other Christians. However, my definition of “Christian” was anyone who attended church. I dated several “Christians” during High School. By my Senior year, I had suffered a couple of heartbreaks and realized that many of the “non-Christians” I had dated my freshman year treated me much better than the “Christian” guys I dated. I decided maybe my plan wasn’t so great after all. I decided to abandon my criteria of only dating “Christians” and to just have fun casually dating.

When I was twelve years old I read a biography on the first female architect and that was it. I had found my profession. The perfect blend of art and math, my two favorite subjects. I loved creating and designing. I dabbled with the idea of becoming a lawyer or a doctor, but I always returned to architecture, my first love. It seemed to be my destined profession. My Junior year of High School I started looking at my options for Architecture Colleges. My dad’s boss’ daughter had recently graduated from a College of Architecture out of state. At my parents’ encouragement, I spoke with her on the phone and she encouraged me to apply to her alma matter.

I applied to five different Universities for Architecture. My first choice was an in-state school. We visited the in-state Universities I had applied to, including my first choice. However, the first school I was accepted to was the one out of state University I applied to. I was going reject the acceptance, but my mom suggested we go visit before we ruled it out. After all, it had come highly recommended by a family friend.  My mom planned for us to travel and headed off for a one-day whirl-wind visit. We flew early in the morning to the University, spent the day there, and flew back home in the wee hours of the night.

I immediately fell in love with the campus. The campus was a quintessential University Campus with old brick buildings, gardens and tree lined drives. The weather was amazing year-round. The students at the College of Architecture were friendly, welcoming, and eager to share their work. I felt this was where I wanted to be. We even stopped at the bookstore where I purchased my first official University shirt. When we arrived home, I immediately sent in my acceptance letter, full of excitement for what laid ahead.

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