I was pretty much born and raised to go to Emory. My parents moved to Atlanta from Wisconsin in 1974 so that my father could attend Emory Law School, where he is now adjunct faculty. My mother got a job with Emory Healthcare that has since paid for two siblings and me to attend Emory.
Yet I remember my sister making me cry at the dinner table after I decided to apply binding early decision: “You’re turning down Division I athletic scholarships to swim Division III?”
Even more than I had been bred to go to Emory, I had been bred to go to a Division I school by my competitive swimming program. Emory was the only Division III school I even considered. Yet turning down the scholarships and glory of D-I sports to come to Emory was the best choice I have ever made.
Swimming definitely led to my most significant accomplishments and memories in college, but doing it at Emory allowed me to branch out as well. I focused more on school, joined a sorority, mentored new freshmen, participated in the ethics department’s summer servant leadership program, got paid internships and even studied abroad in Africa. It let me balance my life and my priorities.
I’m not going to lie — Emory stressed me out. There were nights I cried in the library because I just did not have enough time. I had to ask for help from my friends, coaches, teachers and even administrators. My success was dependent on those people. I got paper extensions, missed practices and meets, and received guidance and support everywhere I looked. Of all the things Emory has taught me, the most important lesson was that people will be there when you ask for help.
I graduate with a fantastic education, an NCAA team championship and four years’ worth of friends, teammates and memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks, Emory.
Ruth Westby is a College senior from Dunwoody, Ga.