My life at cherubs as “Boot Girl”

Kaitlyn Tom and Sami Wanderer at the Bean. Photo by Marilyn Zhang

I don’t remember falling. I remember getting back up and finishing my leg of the four by 800 meter race because it was States, and I couldn’t let the other girls down. I was conscious of an aching pain. Two days later I found out that I had finished 800 meters on a broken foot.

When we learned I’d broken my fourth metatarsal and would have to be in a boot for two months, my dad asked me, “Are they still going to let you go to cherubs?”

I had no answer. The thought of not being able to go terrified me. After nearly three months of working on the application and waiting for the program to begin, I couldn’t imagine not going.

I decided to email Professor Roger Boye, the director of the program. I explained that I’d be on crutches the first week of the program and could walk around in my cumbersome, black boot for the last four weeks. His response immediately extinguished my fears. He told me I was going to be on the first floor right by the bathroom. He even told me who my roommate would be.

Getting approval to attend was only half the battle. The next two weeks, in between surgery and a family vacation, I avoided thinking about cherubs. I was nervous. Nervous about how I would shower, climb stairs and keep up with new friends in a new place, 853 miles away from my home and family.

When I first arrived, I felt like an inconvenience. Worse, I felt left out. On the second day of the program, I couldn’t keep up with everyone as we rushed from place to place to cover a story. The instructors did everything they could to make things easy for me, but taking the elevator kept me from walking down the stairs with the other girls, causing me to miss out on crucial bonding time. The two minutes to get between floors on the elevator felt like an eternity, and all I could think about was how much I wanted to be able to walk again.

Over the course of the first week, though, I grew more comfortable with the girls on my floor, quickly forming a close bond. Sara Siquiera and Kaitlyn Tom of California helped me get food from Hinman Dining Hall and Lauryn Luescher of San Jose, California, rode the elevator with me to keep me company.

After the first week I was able to walk, and I hardly even noticed the boot. I worked out with Kaitlyn in the common room and eventually was able to do the elliptical in the fitness center in the basement of East Fairchild. I went into town with my friends and was able to take every opportunity to spend time with them. I earned the nickname “Boot Girl” after I wrote a story about making lemons out of lemonade during the Write Off club. 

I realized the boot wasn’t holding me back. Working around my injury during the program helped me grow stronger.

I won’t always wear the boot, but I will always be Boot Girl.