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Robyn Cortello

Lakeland • Elementary Education

When I was deciding which college to attend, I never thought that a Christmas gift exchange with foam light sabers would be one of my fondest memories from freshman year. But it is and it still makes me smile.


During that first finals week, my roommates and I exchanged Christmas gifts. We had gotten each other small tokens of our friendship and foam light sabers — toy replicas from the Star Wars movies – was among them. We spent a good two hours fake fighting each other with these light sabers up and down our hallway in the Fountains. We took hundreds of pictures that night and then put them to the Star Wars music on our computers. We still laugh when we see those photos and hear the music — some of the expressions we made are just crazy.


That is what living on campus is all about. You never know when you are going to make a memory. But you have to be there to make them. And I am lucky enough to be here making them every day.


I’m a junior majoring in Elementary Education. I am originally from Lakeland, and I decided to attend UNF because I really felt like I belonged. I had visited other schools and I felt like a number. Here, it didn’t feel like that at all. I felt like a person.


Being from a few hours away, I knew I would be living on campus — there was just no other choice for me. But I really wanted to. I had always heard that living on campus gives you the best experience. You are more connected, you make more friends and you spend your time on campus, not getting to campus from an apartment. It worked out great for me!


My first year, I lived in the Fountains. My RA (resident adviser) planned a lot of great programs that we could go to and meet new people. He was also always available if any of us wanted to go talk to him. He was always asking what he could do to help. I liked knowing that there was someone looking out for me and wanting me to make friends and become a part of the UNF campus and student life. The one piece of advice I have for anyone who is going to live on campus is get to know your RA. They can be a really good resource if something ever happens or even if you are just bored one night and don’t know what to do.


Sophomore year, I moved to the Village and I still live there today. And I love it. Though it is not as much of a community as the Fountains was, I also don’t need as much planned for me. My first year, I needed to attend programs to learn about the campus and to meet friends. Now, I know campus and I have a lot of friends. I really need and want a place to live that fits my lifestyle and my educational needs. And that is what is great about living at UNF. There is a residence hall that fits everyone.


It is really convenient to live on campus. I have thought about living off campus and trying to get an apartment, but I like being on campus too much. I love to be involved and I love to make friends. I have more time for both of those things by living on campus. I don’t have to worry about how I am going to get here or where I am going to park. I just get up and go to class. And since I can be super forgetful, if I leave my dorm and forget a book, I can just go back and get it. I don’t have to get in my car and drive back home or do without. It is all right here.


Since being at UNF, I have gotten involved in things that interest me. I am the Week of Welcome captain, I have attended a couple of on campus Christian Ministries, I am a member of the Honors College and I am a facilitator in Dr. Leslie Kaplan’s honors freshman seminar class. Being a facilitator is my favorite thing that I am involved in! I love getting to know the freshmen and being able to really help them. I remember what it was like to be a freshman. I know how hard it can be, but we are there to work through it together. I am really passionate about UNF so I share as much as I can with the students in my section. I hope something I say will stick with them long after they have left the class.


While many people think UNF is a small campus, it is a lot bigger than everyone’s high school was. There is a lot of stuff out there to do. If you don’t like something, try something else. Something is bound to interest you on a campus our size. You just have to try. If you are not an outgoing person, just try anything once. You are bound to make a friend and then you can take that person to the next event. It’s ingenious!


My freshman year was an interesting adjustment. I am a big homebody. I love my nieces and nephews and being away from them was hard — it still is. But we all survived. I feel like I grew up a lot that first semester. Even if my family had been from Jacksonville, I still think I would have lived on campus. I think that is the best way to really learn about the campus and make the adjustment to the rigors of higher education and college life. Also, it is a great way to make friends and memories — especially one that involves light sabers.

cortello, robyn inside

That is what living on campus is all about. You never know when you are going to make a memory.