machu picchu overlook
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Colleen and friends pensive on a mountain
Colleen and Matt playing laser tag
Colleen and friends group selgie
Colleen and her friend Matt in front of a flowering tree in the spring

Well, that's it! Finals are over, all my papers are submitted, and I am sitting on my dorm room floor surrounded by moving boxes and packing tape. That could mean only one thing… junior year has come to an end.

I feel a bit nostalgic thinking back on the crazy year it has been. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to work on both academic and independent projects with truly brilliant professors, travel the world with Dartmouth's funding and support, and take classes that continue to inspire me and push me closer towards figuring out exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life. But, even with all of this, the thing I will really remember when I think back on this year are all the incredible people I had the privilege to get to know.

In talking about Dartmouth, I think it can be very easy to omit the discussion of friendship. Whenever my relatives ask what I've been up to at college, I always rattle off the research projects I'm working on, the classes I've taken, or the future adventures abroad that I have lined up, but I never actually take the time to talk about my day-to-day experiences and the people who truly make Dartmouth feel like a home.

And, despite my initial preconceptions about what and how friendships form in college, my support network in college continues to grow and evolve. When I first came to Dartmouth, I imagined that freshman year would be the primary instance in which people would actively create new friendships. I envisioned finding a group of friends I felt comfortable with who would be by my side for the next four years and beyond. And, while this is not too far off from my own experience, I never anticipated meeting one of my best friends my junior year of college -- nor that it would come out of an academic context.

These past few terms have shown me once again that life at college can be quite the serendipitous whirlwind. Had I not decided to take ECON 77: "Social Entrepreneurship" winter term, or had I not reached out to someone I barely knew to form a project group, I probably wouldn't have had the opportunity to get to know Matt. From working on a social entrepreneurship project with him in the winter came the opportunity to take the Senior Design Challenge (yes, as a junior---read about it here to find out how we swung that), and from this project came a friendship that I hold very dear to my heart.

What I'm trying to say is that I came into junior year really only thinking about what classes, research, and internships would best set me up for the life I wanted to lead after college without recognizing the possibility for each term at Dartmouth to bring new, inspiring people and friends into my life. I am incredibly fortunate to have made a lifelong friend even as a crusty old junior, and THAT, to me, is what I will remember most when thinking back on this past year at Dartmouth.