Here’s to freshman year!

By: Julianne Tran

As my freshman life comes to a close, I sit here at my desk, amazed at how much can happen within one single school year. “Tulsa time” seems to be running on a faster ticking clock because I can remember so many remarkable, joyful, stressful, funny and loving moments that filled my first year at TU.

Julianne Tran and friends in an open-sided motorized vehicle in Panama
With new friends in Panama

I began my TU experience at 5 a.m. one day last summer at the Tulsa airport, waiting to depart for JumpstartTU in Panama. I was excited to experience Panama’s people, culture and rich history. I was excited to practice my Spanish and explore an entirely different country.

Was I excited to be attending TU in the fall? Not so much.! I was still scared, stressed and worried about if I made the “wrong decision” and if I was to have the loneliest and most stressful year of my life.

Now, looking back, that was quite dramatic and oh, so wrong. In the matter of one week in Panama, my whole mindset about college changed. I met some amazing friends, laughed all night long, bonded over shared stresses about college life, talked with kind staff and professors that led our group and got a little peek at the opportunities that TU could provide for me.

Those first exhilarating days

Then came the start of freshman year with a whirlwind of exciting events: Freshman Orientation, moving in with the perfect roommate, exploring campus and, of course, beginning classes. I still laugh at some of those first nights on campus. I remember gathering after one of the first days of class with my friends in the library. We all crammed into a study room with our perfectly organized to-do lists and overzealous perceptions of “all the work that we needed to do!”

Julianne Tran and a group of friends at a University of Tulsa football game
At my first TU football game

Mind you, this was one of the first days of school, no one else was in the library and we had very little work to do. Yet, we all stayed in that study room, catching each other up on our days and working on (very light) assignments until late in the night when we left to go on a boba run. By then, I knew that I had found the great group of friends who could both motivate and uplift me.

A year of learning, questioning and joy

My freshman year that followed was filled with so many learning moments, challenging questions and joyful times in Room 3032, Pat Case and classrooms. I will always hold close to “family” dinners in Pat Case with my friends, late-night dessert runs with my roommate, weekend movie nights and all those nights of studying, questioning future plans and finding my place. I will remember those important lessons from my Honors class about virtue, friendship and happiness; from my Strategies for Healthy Living class; and from those moments of feeling small, lost and exhausted during this first year.

And, of course, I will remember quickly moving out of my dorm room, returning home and finishing the year off with online lectures and lots of Facetime calls with friends.

Lessons I’d like to share

Silhouette of McFarlin Library in the rosy glow of the setting sun
My favorite view on campus

It was an extremely memorable year to say the least. I will always be grateful for each moment spent as part of the TU community this year. Of the many things I’ve learned, I will hold onto these lessons:

  1. I cannot do it all alone.
  2. It’s okay to not feel completely in control of every aspect of my future.
  3. Reach out for help and support – these people care about you!
  4. Family and friends are so helpful and uplifting.
  5. Celebrate! Even the small triumphs!
  6. Don’t do things just for the sake of a résumé.
  7. Be grateful! You are so fortunate to be where you are.
  8. Have fun! College isn’t as excruciatingly hard, exhausting and stressful as you (probably) think.

We’re just getting started!

Julianne Tran embracing with two good friends
Me and my wonderful friends

Thank you, TU, for this freshman year: for the motivated professors, caring staff and abundant opportunities. Thank you to my parents for getting me here. Thank you to the best friends I could ever ask for. I am so grateful for each trying time and happy moment of this past year. Here’s to freshman year and to many more like this! We’re just getting started!


Julianne Tran is from Mustang, Oklahoma. She is majoring in exercise and sports science on the pre-med track, with a minor in Spanish. Julianne loves dancing and trying to make entire meals in her dorm room microwave. “I hope to finish my time at TU as a kinder, smarter and better-equipped person!”

First-year exercise and sports science student Julianne Tran