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Jessica Santemma

Jessica on Campus

By Jessica Santemma

they say college is the best time of your life, and I’d believe it.  I am a freshman in the undergraduate program at The George Washington University and, could not be happier.  Everything from the strong programs offered to the intense political excitement; the incredible friends I’ve made to the less than ideal food situation combine to make the GWU experience an intellectual, hilarious, busy and fulfilling one.  My dorm, Thurston Hall, is so great and so intimidating.  It houses 1,100 freshmen on 9 floors – wow.  So many people are in the same place at once but if their doors are closed, they seem close yet far.  Many of my friends outside of school have between 30 to 90 kids in their dorms – we have over 100 on each floor.  It’s a factory, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Being at college and depending on myself for everything from getting a healthy meal to making a doctor’s appointment (though I admit still calling my Mom to intervene on occasion), I have learned a lot.  I went to the same small school from age three to age eighteen, so faculty, students and parents knew each other pretty well. Now I attend a university with over 9,000 undergraduate students and what seems like limitless staff.  Professors here don’t know “trivial” personal information that my grade school teachers knew, like that in fifth grade my dog died, my overall grades or social reputation.  It’s the same way with the entire student body here at GW – everyone has a clean slate.  You can be exactly who you want to be, be involved in exactly what you want to be involved in.  It’s a very refreshing feeling that can be applied to any new experience, whether a new job, relationship, friendship or address and town. That experiences are precisely what you make of them.  These changes, and by extension life, is all about pursuing your dreams, trying new things and practicing at them. We can fail and succeed at life, and take advantage of our surroundings and opportunities.  That’s a beautiful thing.


Youth and Role Models

at this unique time in my life, I’m learning that young adults both have and are role models.  Young adults are an interesting group to study because they are mature enough to hold substantial jobs and meet high expectations, yet child-like enough to sometimes receive financial support from their families and get away with laughable excuses like “my dog (or roommate) ate my homework”.  Though young adults were traditionally the most youth celebrity obsessed, recently they have intrigued all ages.  For example, when I was a young girl, I might have only had Cinderella as a role model but now for those aged 6 to 14, Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers are the end-all-be-all of all of coolness.  To women in their forties, Sarah Jessica Parker’s got killer abs, and to those in their thirties, Katie Holmes has impeccable style.  This also holds true with men and their desire for the seemingly unattainable James Bond complex - nonchalant, charismatic and bold.  Granted, Katie Holmes has a stylist, and, sorry boys, James Bond isn’t real, we continue to compare ourselves to our “celeb” role models and often focus on relatively trivial aspects of their lives.  This uncovers a chain of falsity that is rapidly spreading in today’s culture - that only celebrities can be role models.  In actuality, the media has simply dubbed celebrities as “more interesting” than the tanking economy, constantly commanding our attention to Los Angeles and away from Iraq.

One thing we can learn from Hollywood, however, is our fixation with changing the past and regret.  The recent movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a perfect example of this because it is about age progression and lessons understood.  While I haven’t actually seen the film, I have researched it and do understand that it conceptually proves that life is improved with, not hampered by, pain.  It reminds us to focus on whatever has happened, good or bad, and to learn from the past, rather than regretting and condoning it.  Although we cannot live our lives backwards or change our pasts, we can look to our role models and see how they have changed their pasts for better or for worse.  We can learn what they have done right and what they have done wrong and learn from their mistakes as well as our own, and look to handle situations similarly to how they handle them.

 
Movies and role models alike show us and tell us things about ourselves.  We, as human beings, learn what we think is important in life through such influences. We see someone do something we like or want to do, and we are inspired to adapt aspects of their motivation and character for use in our own lives.  We grow to appreciate “regrets” from films like Benjamin Button, and if we take the time to think about why we have chosen specific role models and mantras to live respectively with and by, we can understand what we individually find to be important in life.  We, unlike Benjamin Button, can only live life forward, but by studying ourselves and our elders, learning from others experiences and deciding what we want to prioritize in life, we can begin to make our lives just that much more fulfilling.


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