2017 has been a bittersweet year for me. It has come with challenging and even devastating times, but has given me amazing memories and even once in a lifetime experiences.
My heart has broken way too many times for those who suffered this year due to terrorism, mass shootings, natural disasters, and being silenced by those in power. I pray for peace, hope, and help those who suffered this year and are still suffering.
I did not expect to be personally affected by one of 2017's tragedies, but it seems that no one came out of this year unscathed. It was hard and scary to see my town, places that I walked everyday, overrun by those who believe in sick ideologies. I cried for Heather Heyer, and for those who are so lost and broken that they feel that hate and murder are the answer.
However, God is always bigger than any tragedy. He helped our community come together and heal. This saying is cliche, but I truly believe we became stronger.
2017 brought many highlights to my year. I rang in the New Year in Paris while studying abroad over winter break. It was surreal to toast champagne at midnight with one of my closest friends and our classmates in my favorite city.
I also got to visit London for the first time, and ended up stranded (alone) indefinitely in Heathrow airport when my plane back to the U.S. was having mechanical issues. After six hours of waiting in the terminal, I got to meet the dance and entertainment team from the Denver Nuggets who were also heading back on the same plane after an NBA tournament in London.
The team was just the first of unexpected "celebrity" encounters I had throughout the year. That semester, I got to talk to Tina Fey and Katie Couric when they each guest lectured over Skype in one of my classes. I was definetly starstruck then, and became even more starstruck when Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande, Chris Stapleton, Coldplay, Stevie Wonder, The Roots, and other singers gave a free benefit concert for Charlottesville hosted by the Dave Matthews Band. The concert was a surreal experience that I got to experience with one of my best friends, which made it so much more memorable. To top off the celebrity experiences. I got to attend a Q&A with Hillary Clinton at my school. She was the main speaker for the Women in Leadership Global Forum, and had many wise and empowering things to say about women in leadership.
I have a lot of things to look forward to in 2018. I'll be traveling more, starting new projects, and graduating (!!!)- I can't wait to share these experiences with y'all!