Reflections from Maggie: A CS Summer Student

Well, well, well… 

The time has come for me to write my fourth and FINAL blog post regarding my time here in Chicago. It truly amazes me when I think back over the 10 short, SHORT weeks and see just how much has changed over the course of this summer.  

I’m probably the most sentimental and emotional human being in the world, so this is just a heads up that this post may be INCREDIBLY sappy.

I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. When they say, “it takes a village”, they sure are not kidding! This summer would not have been possible, and the mass amounts of personal and professional growth I have witnessed in myself, without the love, support, encouragement, and guidance of so many. So, here’s to ya’ll– the ones who made this opportunity not only possible but for truly making it the greatest experience of my entire life: 

  • CHICAGO SEMESTER: The sole reason I had the chance to live, work, and learn in Chicago was because of you. No doubt about it. You have tirelessly poured into me, the other summer CS’ers, and many before us and many more to come. My life is forever changed because of my participation in your program. I could never fully express how much ya’ll mean to me.  
  • THE FAMILY DEFENSE CENTER: How incredibly sweet it was to learn from and work alongside some of the most intelligent, passionate, and dedicated people I have ever had the privilege to have met! Few people can say they enjoy going to work, and I am so glad to say I was. You fostered an environment where I was challenged and believed in every step of the way. I cannot wait to hear what’s in store for ya’ll in the future.  
  • SUMMER CS’ERS: My goodness, we are quite the crew… who could have imagined the precious friendships we would make and all the crazy adventures we now share? Having to say goodbye to ya’ll is going to be quite difficult, but I am already counting down the days until we will be reunited. I am beyond thrilled to see what ya’ll accomplish in life and hope you know I will be cheering you on from Arkansas! You are a wonderful group of people, and I’m so fortunate to have gone through this with ya’ll.  
  • MOM AND DAD: Ya’ll are my biggest cheerleaders, my rocks, and my best friends. You have sacrificed endless amounts of time and money for me to be able to be here, and I could never ever repay you for that. I know that ya’ll would have loved for me to be with you, and I would have loved to spend the summer with you. But ya’ll truly do believe in what I do and saw the value in me living and working in Chicago, and you made it happen.  
  • DR. HOUSER AND DR. WIGHT: Both of you are prime examples of the “Ouachita Difference”: professors that want to invest in your life in all aspects. What a blessing to have professors who are actively engaged with you over their off months, are genuinely curious to hear about what you’re doing, and are excited for your return to continue the conversations that have already begun. Some of my most thought-provoking questions and invaluable insight have come from the wisdom you have shared with me. 
  • MY FRIENDS BACK HOME: Ya’ll know I am not a homebody by any means, but after my difficult year, I really wanted to come back and be at home with ya’ll. I already am away for nine months of the year, so being gone for pretty much an entire year was a hard decision to make. However, ya’ll have loved me SO well—from the countless kind texts, Facetimes, Facebook comments, and letters. I can’t express how much it all meant.  

It is with a humble and full heart that I say THANK YOU for anything and everything you have done for me. I am who I am today because of each of your investments in my life. I am so very blessed by ya’ll.  

I want to close this blog post with one simple statement: just say yes. This is one thing I tried to live by this summer; no matter how exhausted or overwhelmed or anxious I was, I would remind myself to just say yes. It was in those times that I learned my biggest lessons and made my greatest memories. 

If you are even remotely considering coming to Chicago and participating in one of the incredible programs Chicago Semester has to offer, I give you that—just say yes. I promise you won’t regret it because I certainly don’t, not one bit.  

In the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.