Written by: Michelle Rossini
The University of North Florida receives a lot of negative comments from those who are Jacksonville natives, like myself. I have heard several statements from people who grew up in Jacksonville and can’t wait to get out of the city, more than that they do not want to attend UNF. I came from a college preparatory high school located in Jacksonville and always heard that going if I went to UNF I would not be happy. I was told I was meant to attend a larger school like FSU or UF, which are big on football.
Confused as to where I should go, I decided to block all the negative commentary I heard for years and looked forward to attending a smaller school where location was convenient. The first semester of my freshman year was difficult since the majority of the people I knew went to FSU, UF, UCF or out-of-state Universities. I would visit my friends who were out of town and wouldn’t care about being involved on campus or meeting new people in my classes. I was afraid that I had made a huge mistake and those who I ignored were right all along.
After evaluating the choices I made during the first semester, I concluded that going off to other cities during the weekend and not participating in campus activities, I was not gaining a true college experience. Almost everyone I have ever talked to say that college was their best years and to always do as much as you can because you only live once.
I took the advice of my elders and started an action plan. Began with signing up for activities, accepting club membership letters, thinking of the positive reasons why I thought UNF was a good fit for me, and being the social person I was in high school. Slowly I realized all the different opportunities that were presented in front of me.
It is now my junior year at UNF and I couldn’t be happier with my school choice! I am heavily involved on campus with clubs and organizations ranging from sorority life, leadership societies, and clubs involving my major, etc.
This past summer I participated in one of the many study abroad programs offered. It was one of the best, if not the best experience of my life. I was able to study Spanish in in Spain while experiencing the culture and traveling to different cities.
UNF may not be a “one size fits all” type of situation, but for me, it fits. I am able to connect with students and professors much easier since the class sizes are not very large. In no way am I saying this school is a utopia, trust me there are problems, aka parking, yes I had to throw that in there. My point in all this is that UNF has taught me how to be a growing independent student, showed me ways on how to reach out to the community and finally has allowed me to be open-minded.