The Littlest Panther Finds Her Roar

I’d like to do something a little different with this post. I want to open up and show you a little bit of my world.  Specifically, I’d like to share a story to which I hope you can relate. I’ve always been the youngest person in my group of friends. Since I started college at fourteen, I’ve always been “the baby” – not surprisingly. Back in community college, I was involved in a lot of things. My friends always called me an overachiever and the faculty and students agreed. But even back then, I was known as everyone’s “little sister.” When I graduated a month after my seventeenth birthday, I knew a chapter of my life had closed. I felt so grown-up, knowing that I was about to throw myself into Florida Tech life as a junior. I felt like such an adult, but at the same time, I felt as though I’d lost my “edge,” so to speak. I mean, I’d always been told that being fourteen and in college was pretty cool. Being seventeen and in college… well, meh. I had become average. What I didn’t know is that I would still be the “the impressive little one”  – and learn to love that role.

A piece of my “De-Stereotype Day” shirt!

At first, things at my new school were pretty normal. As I got to know the people who would come to be my best friends, I learned that most of them were about eighteen. Close enough, I thought. After all, there was only a year separating us. I decided not to mention my age at first, because it didn’t seem at all significant. However, the truth was soon discovered – and I started to become the little sister once again. I was perplexed. How could this happen? I was being treated the same way I was when I was fourteen and my friends were eighteen!










Some days, I feel like this. Rawr?

As my friends and I grew closer, I started to fall back into my old role. I joined nine clubs, founded one, earned a role in one of College Players’ productions (with Alejandra), and became a Panther Prep Leader. That was all around the time when my professors found out my age. It came about in various ways; however, the shock and pride was the same on all of their faces. And here I thought being seventeen and a junior in college wasn’t that big of a deal. It would seem that I had regained my “edge.” As it turned out, little Emilia learned a lesson about underestimating yourself.

So, now the cat’s out of the bag. And here’s the truth about what it’s like to be one of the youngest people at your university: it may be frustrating at times (some days I feel like more of a kitten than a Panther) but overall, it’s one of the best experiences in the world. I’ve got a major head start on my education, which gives me an amazing advantage when it comes to… everything, really. I’m also not missing out on anything – in fact, I’m getting a completely unique experience that few other people are able to say they’ve had. My friends are super-supportive, my professors are rooting for me and I’m doing well in all my classes.  I’m super-involved, able to try lots of new things and I’m well on the road to discovering who I am. This little Panther has got it good, that’s for sure – and as for my next adventure, I’ve decided to run for Student Government President, because apparently I’m still not busy enough.

I can’t wait to graduate next year and move on to my next awesome adventure, no matter what it may be (spoiler alert – grad school). But for now, I’m completely content with where I am in life. I may be the “little sister” to some, but I’m also just a close friend to others. I’m a student and a musician, as well as an athlete, a leader and a volunteer. Most of all, I’m me, and I’m on an adventure here at Florida Tech – and I’m growing up along the way. I couldn’t be more grateful for my life as it stands and I wouldn’t change anything. If you have the opportunity to go to college early, don’t pass it up. That goes for any opportunity that you’re maybe a bit intimidated by. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to not let fear stop you, ever. I hope you take that advice, because if I hadn’t, my life would be entirely different. Take it from me: take a chance and see where it takes you. You won’t regret it.

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