8-18 Media: Marquette meets Manhattan

I was in awe to think there were more people in some three-block areas of Manhattan than in my entire hometown of Marquette. Although I have loved my childhood here, I have always dreamed of experiencing a different kind of beauty and complexity- a beauty of rolling artistic creativity, endless human diversity, and sky-high ambition. For three weeks in the summer of 2022, I explored New York City as part of the Barnard College Young Women’s Leadership Institute with support from the Joyce Ivy Foundation and my parents, as well as my own savings from working jobs in Marquette.

The Barnard campus was gorgeous. At sunrise, the morning view from my dormitory room peered over the campus and looked down on the main hall that highlighted Barnard’s dramatic architecture. Every time I walked off campus, I saw something new, an experience I don’t necessarily have in Marquette. I was never bored. I could take the subway from 116th to 56th in 20 minutes and be in Times Square or I could go down to Brooklyn in 30 minutes, walk the Brooklyn Bridge and see a whole new aspect of the city. Public transportation was a new experience for me, yet I got the hang of it near the last week. As a standup bass player myself, watching someone run from subway to subway with a bass, was extremely impressive.

New York City truly is the city that never sleeps and I thrived off its energy. Going from the small community of Marquette to the biggest city in the country, I found that getting comfortable was surprisingly quicker than I expected. Every night I fell asleep to the loud and bustling sounds of the city and you could not believe how many different types of sirens there are. Made me laugh to think the occasional hooting evening owl in Harvey was nothing compared to the lively sounds of New York City. Yet, I slept soundly to the city noises and I even kind of miss it.

There were 300 young women in the summer program, most of them rising seniors in high schools like me. I met people from all around the country and even worldwide. Some girls were from Shanghai, Saudi Arabia, London, and Beijing, to name a few. I’ve always wanted to meet people from other cultures and learn about different perspectives and in NYC, I was engulfed by culture and diversity.

My roommate was Savannah. She was a rising senior from Tucson, Arizona. We hit it off immediately. It was almost as if we were the same person…the same book but in different fonts. She was a dancer, rock climber, and former circus acrobat. We weren’t just roommates, we were friends and we stuck together while we met new people at Barnard. I found in Savannah, someone who reminded me of my best friends back home, and that feeling made me super excited for college. It reassured me that I will in fact meet others who simply “get me.” Savannah is already talking about visiting me in Marquette… not only because we want to see each other, but also because she doesn’t believe the U.P. is a real place.

On a typical day, I would wake up around 8:00 a.m. get ready, and be down at the dining hall for breakfast by 8:45. My class started at 9:30. The morning portion (9:30-noon) was held in a Barnard College classroom. My Art History instructor, Sarah Hoover, taught us how trauma can appear in the art world in many different ways and create masterpieces. At noon, I met my friends for lunch, most likely in the dining hall at Barnard or nearby Columbia University. At 1 o’clock, my class and I would take a field trip to see the art we were learning about in the flesh. We went to the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with pop-up galleries, and a working artist’s studio.

I always had something to do in the evenings. I saw four Broadway shows — Wicked, Chicago, Dear Evan Hansen, and Moulin Rouge. Each time I saw one, I thought it couldn’t get any better until I saw the next one. We even went on a cruise one night. Every Barnard girl attended, we circled around the Statue of Liberty, saw the Brooklyn bridge and cityscape by water, and danced the night away on the top deck under the stars. We also spent the evenings exploring NYC by going to Central Park or looking around with my friends for the best slice of NY-style pizza. Oh, how I miss the incredible food and the pizza slices bigger than your face.

At night, my friends and I would travel around the dorms, meet new people, rummage for food, and live it up in the dorm lounges. I would finally get into bed at around 1 a.m. each night, filled with content from a full day of new experiences, and excited for tomorrow’s adventure!

As my new friends and I explored the city, no one knew who I was. I could be whoever I wanted to be, and wear whatever I wanted to wear, and no one would even look twice. It was awesome. When I returned home to Marquette, I gained a new appreciation for my hometown and realized I learned more about who I am from this newfound independence. I definitely came back from NYC as a changed woman, excited for my future and feeling ready to take on the world!


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