Oberlin Blogs

Connections at Oberlin

September 22, 2021

Charlize Villasenor ’23

Finally, the first, and possibly only, summer semester has come to an end at Oberlin. I've mentioned before that I became extremely close with the people I lived with at Latinx Heritage House this past year. Still, I feel like I haven't gone into enough detail about relationships at Oberlin. I'm not necessarily talking about romantic partners (which can be part of your college experience, if that's what you're looking for), but rather the different partnerships and friendships that I've built with various people in my time here. It feels way more personal than just networking; yes, we have connected on LinkedIn, but I can also just text them when I'm feeling down or want to grab brunch. Ultimately, I love the connections I've made at Oberlin because I know that if I'm in a position to help out my peers with specific opportunities, I will, and they will do the same for me.
Even though I have about two years until graduation, I'm already looking at what I want my life to be like after Oberlin. Currently, the plan is to attend law school, so I've been taking steps to actualize that. Since I've made quite a few friends from Chicago (shout out to the Posse scholars), I visited the city during the 4th of July and for some time during the September break. Though I did plenty of fun touristy things during my time in Chicago, like seeing a Cubs game, exploring downtown, and visiting Six Flags, I was primarily interested in seeing if I could picture myself going to law school in the city and maybe one day living there. I figure, if I have a support system strong enough that would love to take me to their city, show me around, and hang out even though they could be spending time with family, then I should consider staying nearby and keeping those connections close. Being at Oberlin has allowed me to make close friends with people from all over the United States and worldwide. Still, more importantly, it's shown me how people of different experiences and upbringings can create such a tight-knit community. 
Don't get me wrong; I'm not best friends with every person I see on my walk to class. Like every other student, I have close friends, classmates, acquaintances, and those who I just wave to because they're familiar faces. I will say that I know even my friends-of-friends will let me know of opportunities they think I would be interested in. A few of my peers will forward me emails about seminars or workshops that they believe could help me with the LSAT or law school applications, and I always do the same for my peers. Occasionally, I'll see an opportunity online and share it with peers I've never met in person or have only had one conversation with because I figure it might interest them. I didn't expect such good connections to people I've barely met to be part of my college experience, but I'm grateful it is.
My relationships with other students have been a large part of my experience, but I can't talk about the connections I've made here without talking about the faculty and staff as well. Even though I've declared my major already, I still consider my first-year advisor a mentor, and she's helped me in so many areas of my education and life at Oberlin, from writing letters of recommendation for me to connecting me with various faculty members and opportunities, and of course, considering my goals when advising me academically. Coming from a large high school, I did not expect to have an advisor who cared about me as a person instead of only as a student, but I was pleasantly surprised when I came to Oberlin. The professors are also incredibly supportive and willing to inform students about opportunities to further their academic careers. I've had conversations with professors about graduate school, internships, on-campus jobs, and more to better understand the different options I have currently and once I graduate. If I could sum it into a sentence, I'd say: everyone wants to see you succeed. 

I've never felt in competition with other students, just with who I am at the moment in comparison with who I want to be in the future. That's probably one of my favorite things about Oberlin. So although, yes, my list of connections on LinkedIn has increased plenty in the last two years, I'd like to think the growth of my personal friendships and mentors has had and will continue to have a more substantial impact. Oberlin wouldn't be Oberlin without those around me, and I hope after a bit of time here, you'll agree.

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