I wish I could count the number of times I’ve written a paper or completed an assignment on the symbolism of water throughout my college career. Studying journalism and English yields a plethora of opportunities to write about water’s regenerative properties.

So it was only fitting that as I walked out of my last exam of college, it started pouring. I guess things really do come full circle.

As a junior in high school I remember coming on my first tour of UNC. I had been on the campus before as a child, attending sporting events or walking down Franklin Street, but visiting the campus as a prospective student opened up my eyes. While I wish I could say it was the most beautiful day and I felt so inspired by students sitting out on the quad, I can’t. It was pouring down rain.

Flash forward to another tour I came on during the winter — ice storm. Explore Carolina day — more rain. My UNC experience was off to a great start.

It probably sounds like this blog is taking a turn toward metaphorical downpours. And while I may have had some surprise storms — I didn’t have a roommate my second semester of freshman year, I tripped on those classic UNC bricks sophomore year and couldn’t bend my knees for two weeks, my best friends studied abroad the beginning of junior year and senior year I spread myself too thin with classes and internships — my college experience was actually full of a lot of sunny skies.

I came into college knowing exactly what I wanted to study. And, for the most part, that stayed the same. As a mere first-year I experienced the rush of Franklin street after the iconic eight days, eight points, eight miles game. I crammed 10+ people in my 12’x13’ Hinton James room for a sleepover. I made friendships that are still true to this day.

Sophomore year was full of meaningful life talks and movie nights from our trusty old futon under a lofted bed. #socollege. I won Phase 1 tickets to almost every basketball game and I started an internship that led to my job. We attended concerts, were trapped in Ruffin during #Snowpocalypse2k15 and spent our Spring Break petting baby goats on a farm near the heart of Atlanta. Sophomore year we peaked.

If I learned anything from junior year, it’s that you need a Shaylyn Murphy in your life. The year brings back fond memories of killing the roach infestation in our apartment, which only took 5+ bug bombs and three months of spraying! I learned to laugh my way through any storm.

Senior year has been one for the books. I lived with my best friends, dressed up as Harry Potter characters and watched the Heels beat Duke in the Dean Dome. It wasn’t Wednesday if we didn’t eat chips and queso at pint night and we even traveled to Nicaragua for Spring Break. My blood starts pumping when I think about winning the national championship. That feeling of pure adrenaline pushing your body to its limits as you run toward the deafening #nattychamps celebration on Franklin is unmatched. This is college, people. Being a senior also means waiting four hours in the draining heat to climb the Bell Tower. I’m not sure if four hours is worth the four minutes I spent writing my name on a brick at the top, but #mems, right?

In its simplest function, water helps us grow. It’s necessary for life. All of the experiences in college surely cultivated me and were necessary to get me to where I am today. I couldn’t always control what was thrown at me, but I could control how I weathered it.

After commencement on Sunday I walked around campus in my cap and gown. There was a sea of blue ascending from Kenan Stadium to the historic spots around campus. The Bell Tower, South Building, the Old Well. The places I had become too familiar with in passing, but didn’t appreciate until I realized I was no longer a student. With every step along the rugged brick path I reflected on the memories I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Luckily it wasn’t raining on graduation day, but if my well ever runs dry, I know I’ll always have a special place to come back to and call home.

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