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Family Finds You

I have spent most of my life thinking I wasn’t good enough. That cool was something I could fabricate through looks and pop culture references. That I would never be or understand what it was like to be in the “in crowd”.

This is not to say I didn’t have a army of people who loved me. I did. But in school and outside of my summer escape to Maine I felt completely and utterly alone. During those years I felt hopeless and there was no way out of that darkness but then, 5 years ago I met my tribe.

And while I have never forgotten what it felt like to feel so on the outside you couldn’t breathe through the loneliness I have had the opportunity to find that hope I lost so long ago.


Often I tend to internalize my fears and insecurities so, for a while, I never imagined I’d meet someone who knew what that feeling was like, but recently I did.

Most of us have that one friend that has no clue how amazing they are. That person that is gorgeous inside and out and is clueless of how rare that quality is. I have a lot of friends like that but for me, those are the best people to surround ourselves with.


Recently a new person joined my tribe and while she may not know it yet – there are people that come into our lives that save us from ourselves when we need it most. People who care to listen and to help without expecting anything in return. And while she may come to think that we are trying to be that person for her, she is already that person for us.


Without realizing it, having this new person in my little family has completely changed how we all act and see the world. It has saved us from our monotony added new comedy to old jokes and made us appreciate the simple times that we can spend together.

So to you. The person and people who have no idea how amazing you are, and to all the people brave enough to join me and my tribe on our journey, welcome. And consider this your official letter of acceptance to BDE U.

Together For Good

We aren’t always lucky enough to find a place that makes us feel at home, that makes us feel passionate about a mission, or that makes us talk about it long after we are meant to be gone – but Merrimack College is that place for so many people.

It came as no surprise to me when I found out that Merrimack’s 50 million dollar – Together For Good fundraiser, had reached its goal a whole year before it was meant to be done. And though it finished early, this doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. This was no bake sale, no side street lemonade stand, no kids smiling at you while you drive through the neighborhood – it was a community that worked tirelessly to prove that it deserved everything it has earned thus far, and so much more.

In the four years, I was at Merrimack, the school forged me into the person I was today- and let me tell you – it was no walk in the park. It was nights out, breaking the rules, crying over doomed relationships, bawling over failed essays, and jobs that fell short. It was nights spent playing cards, and days sleeping through obligations because my body couldn’t handle the stress myself and others went through the night before on duty as a Resident Advisor. It was easy failures and hard triumphs – and it was experienced that my high school self would have never dared to do – but together, with my friends, my team, my professors, my unlikely friendships with the friars – it was through this community that I survived the most difficult period of my life.

Now I get it, you talk to anyone who went to Penn State and they will tell you “We Are!” with all the pride in the world – and sure they aren’t the only ones. I guess most colleges are meant to have that effect on people… but for some reason, I know that Merrimack is different.

it isnt because I am special, it isnt because the people there are, its because we dared to be different. we dared to be small – to be unnoticed, to build passion like a powder keg until it had no where to go but out. it isnt because of the school, its because the rest of the world underestimated what we could accomplish in such a short amount of time. – but we knew – and here we are.

At the end of the day, you could tell me that this place is like any other, but you would be wrong. The changes I have seen in four years. The triumphs, the losses, the friends we grieved for – that’s what we all take with us.

At the end of the Day, Merrimack is not just a place it is a home – and the progress we have made is only the beginning. Today we stand together, for good – but tomorrow well keep working toward a future that none of us can quite imagine yet.

My name is Rachel, just Rachel, and I for one couldn’t be more proud to be a part of Merrimack’s journey, because man, has it been a part of mine.


This post is in no way sponsored or represented by Merrimack College or its Affiliates - the perceptions in this piece are not meant to be related to the college or how it conducts itself.

Continue reading Together For Good

Your First Home Comming (an open letter to the class of 2022)

Dear Class of 2022,

This place may or may not be your home yet, but for the past few months, you have evolved far more than the mirror can show. You have grown into a person, a warrior, and a survivor. You have earned grades, got scrapes, bruises and burns. You’ve been to heaven and hell with people you feel like you have known your entire lives, but believe me when I tell you-you have not experienced anything yet.

For those of us coming home – from our new home away from home, you know what it’s like. You know how it feels to leave a place that is so much a part of your identity and know what is like to not give two flying **** about an incoming noreaster because nothing can stop you from coming home to the place you belong.

To the class of 2022 this is your first homecoming, but don’t think that it is only about the drinks, the food, the football, and seeing your mom drunker than your weird uncle. This weekend is about the ones who, like you, learned how much a place can impact the course of your life. And while you don’t know what I truly mean yet… I cannot wait until the day that you do.

XOXO Warrior Nation, See you tomorrow.

See the person next to you? Wear their glasses.

Into adulthood, almost 22 years into life, I’ve learned many things.

I’ve learned how to walk, and talk, and write letters.

I’ve learned how to make those letters into words and those words into sentences that sometimes make sense.

I’ve learned (miraculously) how to let the little things go and live life like a wave (and have always had a love for alliteration).

I have taught myself the virtue of patience, and 8-hour bladder control (thanks to teaching the young children), and how to carry things on my head for all of 7 seconds.

woman in blue dress walking on concrete staircase leading to buildings
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

But of everything I have learned, the most important take away, I think, is to never stop learning.

About math, science, geography, and the people around you.  They often have the best stories, and the best knowledge.

I am fortunate to have been able to immerse myself abroad, in a new country, town, culture, and standard of living.  I am far from an expert on these countries, and far from truly understanding what life is like there, since I was just an ‘obroni’ traveler volunteering my time for but a couple of months.

What I do know, though, is that what I learned from the people I met there will forever exceed anything I have learned, and will ever learn, in school.

People are your best resources.

If someone is around you, that means they somehow, someway, ended up in the same space.

You all ended up in the same place at the same time, and are likely now doing similar things.

And while you ended up together at this moment, your paths leading up to now were so, so different.

You grew up in different households, towns, states, countries.

atlas continent country creativity
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You have a different set of relatives living in your home and different relationships with those people; you may even speak a different language with them than you do at work.

Maybe the person sitting next to you speaks 3 different languages, with English being their second or third.

Maybe you are the one with a rich background – the one with a story to tell.

Or maybe the girl down the hall has family members in the country you’re travelling to on your next vacation and can give you the inside scoop.

What if the boy you sit across from grew up learning math using a different method, and can help you solve the problem you’ve been stuck on for hours?

How do you know the woman who just got promoted didn’t grow up bouncing from foster home to foster home, until she was able to pay for school and work her ass off to get to where she is now?

adventure backlit dawn dusk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

All of you have had life experiences that lead here, yes.

But those experiences have also taught you differently than the person sitting next you, and has shaped your mind in a unique way.

I think that is the most beautiful thing about humans: we are so incredibly unique; we have such an amazing mind filled with memories and choices and viewpoints that allow us to see the world through a new set of glasses.

We have had a different set of family, friends, mentors, and way of living.

Different resources and standards of living and values that have shaped the way we live on this planet.

So talk to the people around you.

Wear their glasses for a while.

Can you imagine if we could see through everyone’s glasses all the time?

I would want that would be my superpower: to be able to communicate with everyone on this planet, so I can learn about how they perceive everything around them.

I think that’s way more fun than walking a mile in their shoes.

You may just learn something about yourself you didn’t realize before.


Welcome Home

Could a phrase mean more than just that?

(First off, i would like to thank Kenney, Shannon, and Campus Ministry for allowing me to experience Nazareth Farm, now on with the regularly scheduled blog post)

We commonly hear it during the times after a long vacation, or coming home from college, or even in sarcasm (Yup that is my mom alright). But what it could mean to a select few, means an experience unlike any other?

In Early 2018, a group i was very fortunate to Co-advise for an Alternative Winter Break to Nazareth Farms ,West Virginia. (Yes, i already know as I said this you are looking up John Denver’s hit song ” Take Me Home, Country Roads” I mean its a jam anyways.) The Alternative Break was designed to give back to communities within the Appalachian mountain region of West Virginia. Sounds straight forward right? Seems like a 2-D Service Trip through a service site?


Nazareth Farms was one of the best sites for service i think students can go to. First off, the staff is one of the most welcoming you’ll ever meet. Basically right when you get off the van you are greeted with a hug and “Welcome Home”. You do not know this person or this place (especially if you get in at 8 pm and in the dark like we did) and they welcome you home like a long lost family member. It is interesting to say the least. You find out as you get there that other schools alternative break programs and your instant thought is ” Oh, well i guess then i may just introduce myself to the them then ill stay with my group.”

Wrong again.

Instantly you just start talking with the different student and staff members and find similarities that start long conversations that last well into the timeless night. Oh yeah time, forget it, you do not need it when your down here, or phones, or any technology for that matter. You are enjoying yourself so much that you do not need this stuff. (Also there isn’t any WIFI but that is beside the point.) The experience of staying up late, talking, playing guitar and singing along. Its one of the greatest times i think a student can have during their down time.

The work you do with Nazareth Farms is unbelievable, you do so much in such little time with such diversity of tasks. One day you may be ripping down old dry wall and setting up new stuff, you may be painting, you may even do minor electrical work, or you could be cleaning Nazareth Farms and preparing the meal for the night. Its such a different way to give back than i have ever seen. Its really rewarding that although the families that may have been less fortunate, they are appreciative and always believe they are more fortunate with Nazareth Farms around and when students and staff like us take time that we could be spending with our loved ones after the holidays and spend it giving back to the community that was not our own.

For those who have gone to down to “NAZ Farm” its one of the best experiences we got to have within the realm of service. The loving nature of the staff and crew to the people who help serve the community to the families we work with. Everything seemed magical during this time and it really created a sense of bonding both between the individual school and the community as a whole group. I think everyone would agree that the hardest thing is leaving this great place and going back to ordinary life. What the Farm teaches you is that everyone has to “come down the mountain” or end their experience at one point or another, but they are always welcomed to “Come Home.” I think this was one of the best wrap ups to the week of service i have ever seen. The idea of you have to go but you can always come back is one of the best send off messages i have ever received on a service trip. It is one that will stay with a lot of us for a while.

West Virginia_1

The picture above shows a group of students that made me stay within Higher Education. When i accepted the opportunity to Co- Advise on this service trip, i had a lot of questions that i needed answered for myself. Am i a good leader?, Am i someone who people will follow, Am i respected, the list goes on and on. Basically i viewed this trip as a gut check so to speak. I figured i am so high strung about the future that i needed a test.


What i felt at the beginning was anxiety that i was not a good leader that i was some what doomed to fail. Nazareth Farms was the turning point for me. I can remember during a time where i was the driver of the van, that i was in control and the people within the van trusted me to drive the van safely. That meant the world to me. People trusted me to get something done. Then as we left the farm, i drove all the way from West Virginia to North Andover MA with everyone trusting me to get them home safely, I considered this the passing of my own test, and it was all in relation to the Farm. Even today i start my staff meetings with ” Its Good to Be Here” “Its great to be here” Shout Out. (You know the call 🙂 )


Nazareth Farms, it is home to me and so many others because of what it can do for a person. It can re invigorate you to continue the great work you already do, it can create new thoughts and ideas, or can change you to be a better person in a world where you can make a difference even if its just a day of honest work. Service trips are designed for students and others alike to get the taste of what its like giving back without really feeling the presence of the work they do. Nazareth Farms Brings a community to surround you, welcome you, and to add to your own sense of belonging both in a wider range of the community and within the Nazareth Farms community. I do not think you can get service trip like this very often. If you have the opportunity to visit please accept the moment you are able to,  you will never regret going.

Even after so many months away, As i sit here writing this i can not help and think of Nazareth Farms and what it as able to do for both me and everyone else who was able to attend this wonderful place so thank you to the great staff that runs this place day in and day out.

SO to those who have been and those who will go

Welcome Home 26814895_565130677155706_5042406003603574494_n