When I was a freshman, I came to campus a week early to participate in the Stanford Pre-Orientation Trip (SPOT), a week-long backpacking trip at Plumas National Forest in northern California. I remember only signing up for the trip because they said we’d be done by 8 a.m. on move-in day, which to me meant I’d have a good chance at picking the better side of my freshman dorm room — turns out my freshman roommate was an athlete so he arrived over the summer.
Nevertheless, the experience was incredible. That backpacking trip was my first taste of what the next four years would turn out to be like: a collection of memories forged together by laughter, humility and teamwork. With the exception of our two fabulous upperclass group leaders, Grayson and Austin, we were all complete strangers to each other, but nevertheless excited to literally take the first steps of our Stanford experiences together.
Over the course of the week, our group bonded over memes, math riddles, funny inside jokes, and, of course, the 11-person midnight group poop on our final night, which I believe still stands as a record in SPOT. That week was unforgettable largely due to the friends I made, who turned the seven to 10 miles we hiked each day into what felt like a stroll around Lake Lag.
On our final night, we wrote letters to our senior selves in which I explained in as much detail as I could fit onto a single piece of paper all of the memories from that week, fearful that four years later I’d forget how much fun it was.
At the end of the letter I wrote to myself, “I have had a wonderful time laughing with these guys. I can’t imagine what the next 4 years will hold … Good luck!” That night, we traveled back to Stanford and slept under the stars on Roble Field, sharing one last night together before parting ways the next morning and moving into our respective dorms.
In my freshman year, I did whatever I could to meet my classmates. I became a co-president of my frosh dorm, helping to plan and facilitate dorm events such as a Halloween haunted house and ski trip to Mammoth. I connected with my Latinx classmates through a club called Hermanos, joined The Daily as a cross-country beat reporter and rushed SigEp in the Spring.
My sophomore year saw me become a leader in the sports section as a desk and then a managing editor, and in my junior year, I became a resident assistant in an all-frosh residence where I met fantastic residents and built a strong connection with my amazing co-staff.
In each of those communities, I met incredible, genuine individuals, motivated and driven to share their passions and build meaningful relationships. Ultimately, that’s what Stanford is about: finding and sharing your passions in hopes of making a positive difference in the world.
After reminiscing over the last four years, the quote that comes to mind is one I recently read by Sarah Hall ’05, the second-fastest American women’s marathoner of all time. She said, “The thing you will value most from your time on the Farm will be the relationships formed with so many amazing individuals.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m so grateful to have met so many incredible people on the Farm. I will always cherish my friendships and memories made here.
Before concluding my final article for The Daily, I need to thank my former editor Bobby Pragada ’19 for believing in me and allowing me to flourish as a writer and editor for the Sports Section. His guidance, wisdom and enthusiasm brought The Daily’s sport section back to life.
I want to thank the organization as a whole for giving me the opportunity to cover absolutely incredible athletic experiences at Stanford. As a former high school runner, I remember feeling so enthusiastic to cover the highly-talented men’s and women’s cross country teams, which consistently recruit some of the fastest athletes in the country. It was also through The Daily that I got to meet and interview dozens of athletes and coaches, as well as the president of Costa Rica, in my one and only attempt at a news article.
Looking back on it all, the last four years have gone by faster than I could have imagined. While it still feels like the pandemic “robbed” us of a more traditional senior year, I am grateful for the time I did spend on campus and the memories that came along with it. Thank you, Stanford!
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.