I am a German cultural dancer; I have been since I was three. My grandparents are two of the most incredible people I know. My Opa (Grandpa) and Oma (Grandma) came to the United States with their families from Yugoslavia and Austria, respectively, during World War II. Both of their families laid their roots in Cincinnati, where the two of them met. Their families are two of the families that created the Cincinnati Donauschwaben, a cultural club designed to preserve and teach others about their heritage. At the Donauschwaben, we host festivals, learn German dances and songs, and generally have a good time. I have met some of my closest friends while dancing, and the entire atmosphere feels like that of a family. I am who I am today largely due to my experiences with the Donauschwaben. This is such a large part of my life, I can't explain how much it means to me in only a few sentences. Below is a link to an essay I wrote about the Donauschwaben, my second family.
I come from a relatively small family. My parents passed their work ethic on to me when I began school, my older sister, Megan, taught me to always put my best foot forward, and Brandon, my younger brother, has resilience like I've never seen in a person before. It's extremely difficult to live with people for so long and not adopt some of their traits, and I am blessed to have received the family that I have. We have our fair share of arguments and grudges, but I know that I could go to any person in my family for a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen. I know they have my back just as I have theirs. There are a lot of people who might not understand how five people who are always running around can be so close. Between my parents, sister and I, our work schedules mean I can't remember the last time all five of us ate dinner together. But this just means we treasure the moments we spend together that much more. In the whirlwind of our lives, "some call it chaos, but we call it family" (unknown author).
I am a fifth-year student at the University of Cincinnati. Majoring in mechanical engineering, I am also a part of the University Honors Program and the ACCEND Accelerated Degree program which will allow me to graduate in five years with both a bachelor's degree in my major and a master's degree in business administration. I love learning new things, and can often be found on google looking up random bits of information that I may never need to know. I believe curiosity is a gift; "curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning" (William Arthur Ward). I believe that every day is an opportunity to grow, but that learning and growing as a person is a choice. And I believe that going out and experiencing new things is the best way to learn about others, the world, and yourself. In my time at the University of Cincinnati, I hope to learn more about myself and explore my interests in art while working toward my dream job as a mechanical engineer.
Everyone asks themselves this question at some point in their lives, and there can be a lot of answers depending on the situation. On the University of Cincinnati campus, I am a mechanical engineering major in the accelerated degree program for a masters in business administration. At home, I am both the older and the younger sister, who dabbles in art and believes that there is always enough time for family. And at the Cincinnati Donauschwaben, I am a dancer who is proud of her heritage. This is only a glimpse, a snapshot of the person I am. Just as no one can understand someone's life story from a picture, so can no one understand a person from a few sentences. So at the risk of sounding redundant, here is a bit more detail about three of the things I consider most important in making me who I am today.
Photos courtesy of Lisa Spraul (left and center) and Marcia Spraul (right).