Hello! My name is Olivia Martins and I am a sophomore from Massachusetts majoring in Politics and International Affairs with a double minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Latin American Studies. On campus I am involved in Admissions, Greek life, Religious Life, and Dance Club. Today I am going to talk a little bit about the people who have made Furman my home and how they have encouraged and supported me throughout my Furman experience.
We all have moments in our lives where we realize that from that second on our lives have changed forever. Freshman move in day is one of those moments in my life. I can so vividly remember standing with my parents outside of Poteat Hall (one of Furman’s freshman dorms) saying goodbye to them before they headed back home to Massachusetts. There was the hustle and bustle of other families and the sun was shining down on us. There were tears streaming down my face as I said goodbye and watched my parents walk away and I knew that my life after that moment would look very different than my life before. Like many college freshmen I was so excited to start my Furman experience; even though I had no idea what it would entail I had a feeling it was going to be amazing. I picked Furman because it felt like home when I visited campus and I was thrilled to start creating that home for myself. The next year and a half would be filled with some of the best days and some of the worst days, fulfilling excitements, and crushing disappointments. My life has changed in more ways than I ever could have imagined and the home I have built for myself at Furman is full of people and memories without which I would not be the person I am today.
The community that Furman fosters from the first moment you step foot on campus allows for authentic relationships to form between peers and amongst professors. I find the depth and value of these relationships to be one the unique qualities of being a Furman Student. The group of people I met fall semester my freshman year are still some of my closest friends and I treasure the memories we have made together. I got connected to the group through a friend I had met at Summer O and I was welcomed in with open arms. One of the really special aspects of your first semester at Furman is how excited everyone is to get to know each other! It fosters a welcoming and inclusive environment and allows for freshmen to quickly feel at home. The picture above is of my friend group at Friendsgiving 2019. We started a tradition freshman year of going to Cracker Barrel for Friendsgiving and continued that tradition our sophomore year. This group of people will always hold a special place in my heart and some of my most memorable experiences at Furman have been spent with them. From attending Furman Basketball games, watching movies in our dorm lounge, or just being surrounded by these joyful people they never fail to put a smile on my face and cheer my up on hard days.
Further, one of my favorite aspects of Furman is that you continue to meet new people and make new friends throughout your four years. This year I have lived on my sorority’s hall with my pledge class. This experience opened my heart to so many new wonderful friendships which have continued to expand my circle of community at Furman. My sisters have made Furman feel even more like home in my second year and I am so grateful for their steadfast friendships. One of my best friends from my hall freshman year became my sister and she lived across from me this year. She even came home with me for Fall Break in October and I got to show her around my home city of Boston. Nichole has made me feel special from the moment I met her, and she has enriched my life in countless ways, through her intentionality, kindness, and many inside jokes. This year I lived right next to two of the sweetest sisters Katiemarie and Allie. I only knew them vaguely going into sophomore year, but we quickly hit it off and now I cannot imagine my life without them! They have both made me feel valued and loved and have showed me the true sisterhood of our sorority. Over spring break, I visited Allie in Nashville and got to explore her home city with her. Allie has showed me grace and compassion, and has taught me not only what it means to have a true friend but what it means to be one. She is also quite possibly the funniest person I have ever met, and I never leave a conversation with her without falling over in laughter. I am so grateful for the relationships I have built with these three women and I am so excited to continue doing life with these ladies at Furman and beyond. These friendships and countless more that I have formed at Furman have deepened my understanding of the value of true friends and how they can pour into you in ways that build you up and help you become a better version of yourself. I believe that the community Furman fosters allows for all of their students to “find their people” and make connections with their peers that will last through their time at Furman and well beyond.
The student professor relationships that I have fostered at Furman have proved to be some of the most meaningful connections I have made. Three professors that have significantly impacted my life are, Dr. Simmons (Philosophy), Dr. Oztas (Politics & International Affairs), and Dr. Rojas (Spanish Program).
The summer before my senior year of high school I participated in a program at Furman and had the opportunity to take a class with Dr. Simmons called “Rhythms of Justice” which studied philosophy in the context of hip hop music. From the first day with Dr. Simmons I was inspired by his passion and dedication to his students. He never failed to get me excited to think about topics I had never considered, and I always left his class with a new perspective on life and how it should be lived. Dr. Simmon’s class that summer convinced me that Furman was meant to be my future home and because of him I was so excited to be a Paladin in the Fall of 2018. Since becoming a student at Furman, I have had the opportunity to take two more classes with Dr. Simmons and he has become a valued mentor of mine who always challenges my perspective and pushes me to see different points of view. Beyond being one of the most inspiring professors I have had the privilege of taking classes with Dr. Simmons has helped me to think about what I value in my life and what I want to spend my life prioritizing. I greatly value his guidance and am so thankful that he always makes time for me in his busy schedule.
My first semester at Furman I took “Introduction to World Politics” with Dr. Oztas and I found this class so valuable that I declared my major Politics and International Affairs because of my experience. Dr. Oztas’ knowledge of international political issues is impressive, and she has consistently inspired me to want to learn more. When I declared my major Dr. Oztas became my advisor and she has supported me and helped me cultivate my professional interests ever sense. I know that her office door is always open to me and that she is willing to meet with me to help me make tough decisions about classes and internships, or just listen to me rant about something. Dr. Oztas continues to support me every day as I pursue my professional aspirations and it is such a comfort to know that I have a mentor who is always willing to help me go after my goals and dreams. I am so thankful for Dr. Oztas’ constant support and I have no doubt that she will be a valuable mentor in my life throughout my Furman experience and beyond.
Finally, Dr. Rojas has been my most trusted confidant and mentor at Furman, and she has tirelessly poured her support and kindness into me. She is the kind of professor who will change your life through her passion for teaching and her commitment to connecting with her students. I first had her as a professor fall of my sophomore year in Spanish Literature. I was terrified to take the class as I never liked Spanish literature in high school, but with Dr. Rojas this course quickly became my favorite of the semester. She is enthusiastic in the classroom, tirelessly works to make sure all of her students understand the material and shows nothing but compassion to all those she works with. Dr. Rojas became my advisor for my Latin American Studies minor and she has spent hours of her time graciously helping me through everything from course selections for semesters, to making big life decisions. She has supported me with kindness and advice in times of stress and sadness, and she has celebrated with me in times of joy and accomplishment. Dr. Rojas has helped me better understand myself and what I want for my future. She is someone I admire greatly, I consider her my greatest mentor, and my Furman experience would not be the same without her by my side.
The people above have all positively impacted my life in more ways than my freshman self could have ever imagined on move in day. They have all helped me to grow and have been fundamental in cultivating the person I am today. These people have made Furman my home, and it is a home that has exceeded all of my expectations and has been full of relationships more valuable than I thought possible. Furman is full of people like the ones of I have written about. Furman is full of students who love fully, laugh heartily, support loyally, and spend every day fostering a Furman community where every student feels at home. Furman is full of professors who teach passionately, mentor with impact, and care genuinely about their students. My life has been enriched by all of the people who have made Furman home and it is why I am so proud to be a Paladin.