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A Letter to My Younger Self Lauren Bondi '19

Dear 17 year old Lauren,

I know you’re feeling a lot of mixed emotions about this next chapter in your life. You’re excited to be at a prestigious school and to experience the East Coast for your college years, but you can’t help but feel a little nervous about venturing so far from home.

A few words of advice for your first couple of years here: cut yourself some slack and trust that you’ll find your way eventually. You’ll go through periods of loneliness and home sickness and that’s okay, it’s part of the growth cycle (by the way, it hits you every September regardless of year). Despite the emotional roller coaster, never doubt your abilities and your legitimacy as a student and a young woman: you are here because you deserve to be here. Believe in your skills and know that you’re smart enough to navigate your way through this exceptional institution. In time, you’ll be thinking back to your first year here and wondering why you ever doubted yourself. Listen to your parents – during your multiple phone calls to them in those first few weeks, you’ll come to realize that they’re seldom wrong.

"Believe in your skills and know that you’re smart enough to navigate your way through this exceptional institution."

You came to Smith for all the right reasons, which include the academic rigour, extensive alumnae network, student-faculty relationships, and the comforting sense of community embedded within all those realms. And let’s not forget about the basketball.

There was something about playing pick-up in Ainsworth and feeling as though you could already envision yourself leading a team on that court. There was a contagious energy on the floor that day. You connected with the players in a way that you didn’t during your other college visits, and that had you excited for more.

"You connected with the players in a way that you didn’t during your other college visits, and that had you excited for more."

Then you met with Coach Hersey and not only were you taken by her drive and investment in the program; you could see how over your four years here she’d push you to be the best version of yourself as a point guard and leader on and off the floor. As coach spoke of bringing home a conference title together and writing a new page in the school’s rich basketball history, her vision enthralled you. You’ll be thinking back to that meeting quite a bit over the next four years – you’ll come to find that there’s nothing you’ll want more than to get on that ladder, cut down the net, and hand her the scissors as you celebrate the program’s first NEWMAC title.

"As coach spoke of bringing home a conference title together and writing a new page in the school’s rich basketball history, her vision enthralled you."

You’ll reach your junior year and feel like you’re finally hitting your stride – and let me tell you now, your senior year will be even better. The opportunities you’ll be afforded have come because of your work ethic and the relationships you’ve forged here. A little Canadian wisdom from your old coach back in high school, Allison McNeill, will always hold true – “keep watering your bamboo every day” because all that effort will be rewarded.

Let’s fast forward a few years later now – you’re a college senior. You’ve got a lot of great things going on in your life and you owe thanks to the Smith community for helping you thrive in ways you would’ve never imagined possible as a timid 17-year-old. The administration, faculty, professors, research advisors, and coaches all want to see you succeed and their guidance and support has helped mold you into the confident young woman you are today. Your teammates have always been there to have your back through the highs and the lows because that’s what makes a family. You’ve developed one hell of a second-family away from home at Smith, and no doubt you’ll have them for a lifetime.

"Your teammates have always been there to have your back through the highs and the lows because that’s what makes a family."

I’ll leave you with one final thought: it won’t be until your senior year that you and your team figure out that you have everything it takes to make history at Smith. Cherish every opportunity of that last year and approach it with an unwavering confidence in yourself, your teammates, and your coaches.

"Cherish every opportunity of that last year and approach it with an unwavering confidence in yourself, your teammates, and your coaches."
"Look inward after failure; celebrate your efforts after success; and trust in the fact that your body of work is as good as any other student-athlete from coast to coast."

Look inward after failure; celebrate your efforts after success; and trust in the fact that your body of work is as good as any other student-athlete from coast to coast.

Love,

Lauren

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