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  • UF Chi Omega

Growth and Continuity: My Why UF

I knew from my first preview advising appointment that I could graduate early, but I thought that I wouldn’t want to do that. I tested out minors, considered other majors, and took fun classes that didn't contribute to my degree to try and extend my time at UF. However, in October of 2023, I received a call from my sister that would change the trajectory of my undergraduate years. She informed me that she had been accepted into graduate school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. 

I have three sisters, and they are my best friends; they are partially the reason why I joined Greek life and have surrounded myself with a strong community of women. We’ve talked about living together again for years to collaborate on our future plans, spend quality time together before starting our own families, and build our lives near one another. The call from my sister created an opportunity and an immediate gut feeling. I asked my sister if moving was something she would want to do together, and the idea came to life quickly. I decided that I would graduate early and take a gap year to explore myself, my future, and a new city with my best friend.

This new timeline changed my perspective completely. All of a sudden, I was a senior. The last football game of the season was my last football game as a student. My class registration for Spring meant that I was choosing the last undergraduate classes that I would ever take. My time became that much more limited.

Although this change was hard and felt abrupt, it launched me into the present. It gave me the best few months of my life so far, and this momentum has continued into this Spring semester. As I approach the last month here, I know it could not have gone any other way. I feel an outpouring of love from the amazing people in my life. I feel celebrated and encouraged, and I feel confident that I can take on this new experience.

I learned so much about myself and about my life in making this decision. Every individual has a different timeline; what is right for others is not necessarily right for me, even if those other people are my best friends, whom I admire. I discovered that the aspects of life that I feared for so long—inevitable changes, potential losses, and taking risks—didn’t feel so scary or impossible anymore. 

At the end of every tour I give of UF’s campus as a Cicerone, I share my “Why UF” — why I came, and why I've stayed. I came to UF as an in-state student choosing what I saw as my best option. I was unsure if I would fit into the gator community, and I had doubts about finding what I needed here. I knew that I was a good student, but I lacked confidence about who I was outside of the classroom. 

Every single day has proven my decision right. I have grown deeper into myself at UF, and UF has grown with me. UF has shown me that I am a student, but I am a person first. I am a friend, a musician, a mentor, a sister, a tour guide, and so much more. UF has given me examples of the person that I want to be, and it has given me friends that align with who I already am.

Although I am leaving many things behind in May, I know that I am bringing so much with me. I am bringing every friend with me, as I have been formed by their friendship. I am bringing every experience with the skills and knowledge I gained. Who I am today is the product of three years, of hundreds of people, and of countless opportunities that have built immeasurable strength, wisdom, and love within me. I feel more like myself than I ever have.

To any one of those people reading this—thank you. Thank you for loving me, pushing me, and celebrating me this past year. I cannot wait to see where we all go, and I will always cherish this part of my path that we have walked together.

Signing off, 

Grace Callahan, MC ‘21

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