‘The girl from Arizona’

The girl from Arizona

by Emma Schlenker, Special to The Simpsonian

I get a lot of questions when people find out that I am from out of state. But my least favorites have to be the incredulous, “What are you doing here?” and “Why would you come to Iowa?”

This typically bothers me the most because I am so proud to be a part of this campus. I am still proud to be from Arizona, but someday I will be proud to be an alumna of Simpson College. I think my greatest Simpson Success is that I feel confident that I can go anywhere and feel at home. Not because of where I am but because I know who I am. I do not think I could have done that anywhere but Simpson.

There’s a lot to be said about a school of 1,400 students where I can walk across campus and say hi to so many of my friends but also have the opportunity to meet someone new. Simpson is unique for a lot of reasons. I have been involved in many different things and feel like I know people from all different walks of life.

I love nothing more than being on campus and hearing the bells from Smith Chapel, the sound of beautiful singing from the Amy Robertson Music Center or smelling bacon from Pfeiffer.
The people I give tours to through the Office of Admissions always point out that there are so many students that say hi and smile to them and me.

We have things like DJ the Giraffe, and The Acorn and Stormy. We don’t seem to take ourselves too seriously while still caring so much about each other. The Simpson community does so much to understand one another and the world and society that we are living in. We disagree and have open dialogue. We use our differences as an opportunity to grow. My life experience is different than my friends here. We like different food, music and clothes but I know that I can ask anyone at Simpson to clarify what they mean and feel comfortable answering any of their questions about how I feel.

Some days are really hard. Being from out of state means not being within driving distance of your parents, best friends or doctors when you’re sick. It means not always having the same resources and connections in the community and having to look twice as hard. It makes you celebrate every birthday and major holiday with your friends from home over Christmas break. It means missing out on the biggest things in my sibling’s lives and not getting to watch them compete in state.

But being an out of state student also means learning what you can and can’t control. It means knowing exactly what the best video chatting apps are, the post office knowing you by name and being on an airplane flying home, no matter which direction you’re going. It’s learning to be supportive with your words and a listening ear when someone from home is having a hard time. It’s about wanting more than anything to just be there to hug them, but knowing you won’t get to see them for three more months. It’s about appreciating every second you get to spend with the people you love, whether that is in your hometown or at Simpson.

People ask me if I think I’ll stay in Iowa after graduation. I don’t think so but I know I’ll be back for homecoming. My experience as an out of state student at Simpson has made me want to go somewhere new, be in a culture I have never experienced before and live there. I want to be the out of state kid and “the girl from Arizona” for the rest of my life. Being an out of state student makes you appreciate your roots, where you know you belong and who you truly are no matter where you are.