What a Difference a Year Makes: A Freshman Blossoms at Longwood

One of the best things about working at Longwood is having the opportunity to see the transformational power of the university at work.

My position in University Marketing and Communications doesn’t involve day-to-day—or even weekly—contact with students. So my view of that impact is usually from afar. This year, however, I was lucky enough to be able to see it up close through my work with a group of freshmen who agreed to blog about their first year at Longwood in a project we called My Life As A Freshman, or MLAF.

Not all of the students have stuck with the project, but a few have. It has been so much fun getting to know them, watching them grapple with the challenges of college and seeing them emerge—now almost at the end of their first year—on the other side. It’s been easier for some than others; and it’s been more transformational for some than others. But they all have learned and grown through the process.

One of the freshmen who has truly amazed and surprised me is Brooklynn Weissenfluh.

Freshman Brooklynn Weissenfluh (second from right) with a group of students who volunteered at a Lions Club casino night held at a local retirement community.

When the nine freshmen who’d signed up for MLAF got together at the beginning of fall 2018, Brooklynn seemed a little overpowered by some of the others in the group. They were laughing and talking, giving the appearance of being full of confidence. Brooklynn, a petite young woman with a shy smile, hung back a little, perhaps not quite ready to claim her space in the group.

As the fall semester went on, she seemed to hit her stride a bit. Her posts became more lively and assured as she talked about working with tutors in the Writing Center, making friends and going to activities on campus.

But this spring is when she really seemed to blossom.

She got the job as a resident assistant (RA) that she’d applied for in the fall, saying she wanted to “be a part of something bigger than myself and make a positive impact on the lives of Longwood students” and that she was looking forward to being a role model for the residents in her hall.

Then I heard that she’d been selected to serve on the Honor and Conduct Board next year and that she’d been elected an officer in an organization related to her major. She also had started going to activities hosted by the Catholic Campus Ministry, a joint group with nearby Hampden-Sydney College.

Brooklynn (left) and her friend, Sydney, with Elwood at Relay for Life.

And she’s been volunteering all over, from Relay for Life to a Lions Club casino night at a local retirement community to a food pantry to a fundraiser hosted by a sorority that’s she’s not even a member of.

Was this really the same shy girl I’d met just a few months earlier?

Brooklynn is a perfect example of how students who embrace the Longwood community can find their place socially, academically and as leaders. And she’s not unique—there are so many other students on campus just like her. Longwood truly is a place where young people can find out what they’re capable of and who they are.

I sincerely hope your student is involved at Longwood. A little effort can have great rewards.

If you’d like to read more about the experiences of Brooklynn and the other MLAF students, just go to: freshmanlife.longwood.edu.

—Sabrina Brown

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