Picking a college is tough. Usually a student narrows it down to three or four schools, and then there is a clear reason why they should choose one. When I was a senior in high school, my choice in Ball State University was made clear by an event that hatched a plan that wouldn’t even happen until my senior year in college.
As my mom and I drove to Ball State in late August 2012, we talked about what Purdue, IU and Ball State University had to offer. I liked the idea of the larger campus size of Purdue and IU, but I knew Ball State had a better program for advertising, which was what I wanted to major in. We had scheduled a meeting with Colleen Steffen at Ball State and hoped she would help clarify some questions I had about the school.
During the meeting we talked at great length about Ball State’s journalism program and the benefits of participating in advertising and public relation clubs like AAF and PRSSA. Then she told me about another opportunity that officially sealed the deal for me. She had just gotten back from the 2012 London Olympics, covering it through a program called BSU at the Games. I was immediately excited! She shared stories about the work she and her students did there, while also experiencing the culture of the Olympics and England. It sounded like an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. On the car ride home, I distinctly remember saying, “Mom, I could be going to the Rio Olympics four years from now!”
A dream that started four years ago is now coming true. During that meeting, a spark ignited, and it has now turned into a full raging passion for travel. I have enjoyed my time at Ball State and have reached goals that I never knew I was even capable of achieving. One of those goals that were sparked by that conversation was to live abroad for a decent period of time. I accomplished that through Ball State and studied this past semester in England for six months.
Going to the 2016 Olympics is another one of those goals. This is why fears of Zika and terrorism haven’t affected me as much. I believe that my determination and excitement is strong enough that it can’t be dampened by fears or anxiety.
So here it is. My bags are packed, with a ticket to Rio de Janeiro in one hand and a can of bug spray in the other. I am ready to take on the Olympics, and achieve that goal that I set for myself as a wide-eyed high-school kid four years ago.
Cassie Sloma is a Ball State University student and public-relations coordinator for BSU at the Games, a group of 50 journalism students traveling from Muncie, Indiana, to Rio for the Olympic Games. Follow them at bsuatthegames.com, @bsuatthegames on Twitter and Instagram, and BSU at the Games on Facebook.