Northwestern students told us about their ‘aha’ moments — in 150 words or less.

Illustrated by Chloe Cohen

My cousin was going to die. I stared at the rough beige carpet. Blinked. Sweat slowly rolled down my glass of lemonade, a damp ring forming underneath. I heard my brother and him clashing plastic fists. Wrestling figurines scattered between three boys who were just beginning to sprout. I looked up, saw him cross-legged and mouth ajar, shouting something. I couldn’t hear it. The words of my mother slithered back into my mind: He’s very sick, and he might not get better. Something about his muscles, and another word I didn’t really understand. Muscular destruction? Something like that. I thought about my bike on his front lawn, how I let it crash onto the grass, the front wheel spinning as I ran up the cement steps. Had the wheel stopped spinning now? Maybe soon. My cousin was going to die.

Written by Marcelo Quesada

Before coming to Northwestern, I thought college would be “the real world,” with challenges loud and unignorable. It would burst my bubble of privilege, and I’d need to take care of myself for once — or so adults always said.

But since moving here, I realized laundry is free, dining halls feed you three meals a day and getting around is easy. The campus itself is designed to impress, flaunting breathtaking architecture and landscaped greenery.

It  wasn’t long  though before I attended this year’s mental health True Northwestern Dialogue, which somehow never addressed diagnosable mental health conditions. (Bless CAPS’s staff, but we should hire more.) I realized then that while our school loves to tout its attractions, it stays much quieter about the adversities students face.

I hadn’t expected NU to be perfect, but I had expected its imperfections to be blatant. I thought college would burst my bubble, but I’ll need to do that work myself.

Written by Jackson Miller

For four years, I went to a prep school 7,000 miles away from home. By definition, prep school is always about looking forward. I did everything wondering where my next destination would be. During many Friday nights of senior fall, when my friends were either partying or asleep, I sat in front of my desk, typing away at the millionth draft of my “Why Northwestern” essay, hoping that college would be different.

Sitting in my room alone on my third Friday night at Northwestern, I opened my third consulting club rejection email. Along with my frustration came the realization that I’ve shaped my Northwestern experience into another prep school journey of anxiously hunting down internships and jobs. Trapping myself in the mindset of always looking ahead, I’ve forgotten where I am now.

My memory from the rest of the night became blurry, but I’ll always remember that line from Macklemore’s “Good Old Days” which I blasted on repeat, reminding me if I’m always “scared of the future,” I’d be “missing out on now.”

Written by Evelyn Long