Following in His Footsteps

Why I decided to attend my brother’s college Alma Matar

The scene remains vivid in my memories. Mid-January, with snow falling lightly and my family nestled upstairs. As we waited for the kettle to signal a fresh cup of tea, my front door briefly opens, then slammed shut. Enthusiastic thuds of my brother’s footsteps rattled the stairs as he bolted from the winter chill. He continued to skip over to our dinner table, grinning from ear to ear, with a large purple envelope.

“I got into Elmira,” was all he said. My mother rushed over for a hug, my father spoke with words of congratulations, but as an 11 year-old, I didn’t care too much. I was in the fifth grade, and the word of “college” meant nothing except the reason why my brother was stressed all the time. I was happy for my brother, but at the same time, I didn’t realize the significance of getting into his dream school.

Over the next four years, my family and I would frequently visit the beautiful campus in upstate New York to see my brother, Josh. From the Gothic buildings to the rich history of the town, it was no wonder why my brother was ecstatic to attend. The campus was small, but wholesome, and he would constantly tell us how the professors are skillful, the students are kind, and the food was phenomenal. As I grew older, the words Josh said about his college resonated with me, and I found myself comparing every college to the small college campus in New York. When it was my time to apply for colleges, I made sure to include Elmira on my list.

In November, my own purple envelope was put into my mailbox and I rushed into my kitchen to announce the news. Although it was not my top or dream school, I was just as enthusiastic as my brother on that mid-January day. five years prior. “I got into Elmira,” I simply stated. My mother rushed over for a hug, my father spoke words of congratulations, and my brother was over the moon with excitement. I was accepted into my intended major and was given a very generous scholarship. I was happy to be accepted, but at that point in time, I had no idea where I wanted to go.

My brother and I on his graduation from Elmira College in 2015.

Did I want to go to my brothers college? I didn’t want to be known as “Josh’s little sister” by professors or any of his peers. College was a time to be independent, so how could I be my own person, but a shadow of my brother? The programs are amazing, I was given over half of my tuition, and I knew the campus like the back of my hand, but was it worth it?

In the end, I chose Elmira College to be my home for the next four years. There was a familiarity, a sense of home, and the scholarship were definitely deciding factors. As I sent my deposit check, I knew I was making the right choice. I know my college experience will be my own considering my brother and I had two completely different majors. Yes, I might have his favorite professor for an 8 am, but it’s one semester and the odds of them making the connection is slim. Knowing that I won’t be living in his shadow, I look forward to the next four years at Elmira.

In this whole process, I learned it’s important to keep yourself in mind above others opinions. I was so worried my peers would compare me to my brother, however, I am an independent entity and know that I will make a name for myself, instead of “Josh’s little sister”.

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