In the Christmas spirit of the season, with the stress of final exams looming on us, I decided to spread some love. There are a few people in this world who I have had the opportunity to meet who have truly inspired me. This list is not a warm and fuzzy to every friend I have so please do not be offended if you are not listed below. This list is purely for the few individuals who leave me feeling inspired after a conversation with them, people who I aspire to be more like, individuals who have given me a slight push in the right direction every time I plateau or go backwards.

Some of you already know I feel this way about you, but others might be surprised. The truth is that this list of people have shaped my life for the better.

  1. My Mother: A list would not be complete without recognizing the parent who has always pushed me to become the best person I could ever be. Of course to put my mother down may be cliche, but it is the truth. My mother is my best friend and confidant. A traveler herself she taught me how to dream. When I was little she used to sing me a lullaby every night that she had created herself. A verse in the song, translated from Italian is as such: “Beautiful baby girl, so very small, where will you go? You’ll go far, far, away… far away”. I don’t think at the time my mother realized she was raising a traveler, but from birth she always supported me. I just want to say without further a due, that my mother is the reason I am confident enough to pursue my dreams without the fear of falling because I always know she will catch me.
  2. Allan Keith and Daniel Figueroa: I do not mean to lump you both together, but you two truly mean something to me. Both of you are so accomplished, wonderful, loving individuals. There isn’t anything I can not learn from both of you. It must have been fate that we all signed up for that trip to Guatemala. It was one of the most memorable trips of my life because of team Pandora! Daniel: You showed me courage and perseverance. Without your examples of leadership, dedication, time management and a drive for success, I don’t think I would ever be able to accomplish anything. I’ll never forget that night we talked in Guatemala… I don’t even know if I even made sense, but I was so proud and slightly jealous that you seemed to have everything figured out. You taught me that no one knows what their doing you just have to keep going. That night was probably one of the realest conversations I ever had, and I owe it to you. Allan:I don’t even know how to thank you. Daniel may have taught me a few thing’s on life, but I would not have even been able to put it into motion without your encouragement. Every time I see you I just want to hug you! You make me feel like a real person who is capable of everything! You make my accomplishments sound grander than they are, and because of you and your advice I took the leap and became more pro-active with my life, and my involvement on campus (it’s a small step, but I owe it to you). Both Daniel and Allan, I love both of you a great lot and wish we were able to hang out more because our conversations means the world to me! xoxo Team Pandora!


  1. Briana Maguire: I kind of promised myself that I wouldn’t add best friends in here, but it can not go unnoticed that who I am today has a great big deal to do with you. Believe it or not my spark and passion for travel is because of you. Without your crazy example of involvement in high school, and your bravery to take month long summer abroad credit’s I don’t think I would have ever taken the plunge on my own trip after first year of university. It is because of your example that I found my love for travel, and through that my passion for humanitarian causes. There are a million more thing’s I could say about you, but for the sake of staying on inspirations: Thank you for giving me the push to see the world.
  2. Christine Novak: I may be off topic with you… but the truth is I want to thank you for being my best friend. I don’t think I could survive this world with out you. This summer you showed me true friendship and I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for that. You have always known exactly what to do and say to make everything perfect again even where our lives are complete disasters. I wish one day to be as good a friend to you as you have been to me. I love you.
  3. Jordan Fragomeni: How could I forget you. My dear boyfriend who has loved me more than I though anyone could love a person. Through thick and thin you have done thing’s I never expected a partner to do. Without going sentimental and showing public displays of affection I was to tell you that you make me a better person. You ground me when I want to fly away, you teach me thing’s I have no idea about and you believed in me when no one else did. What I think needs to be recognized the most is that you waited for me when I was away for three months. I know it was not easy for you, but I will never forget your patience, empathy and affection during those long three months. I love you always.

For sake of time, I need to get back to my studies… part two will come out soon! Thank you so much to everyone in my life! I love each and everyone of you.


  1. Elena,
    What can I say?! I’m completely flattered, extremely happy, entirely grateful and 100% in love with you!!! Thank YOU for being such an amazing individual and inspiring me to love stronger, live better and enjoy life to the fullest. I don’t know if it was fate or pure coincidence that we applied and were accepted to ARW, but I can honestly say I am SO ecstatic that our lives came together and can’t wait to see where we both go in life, continuing to inspire one another and positively influence each other. LOVE YOU <3

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