Nina Christianson

Nina Christianson

I want to thank my mom and dad because... well, I am not quite sure where to even begin. Completing the last four years of my undergrad seems almost unfathomable without them. Although we were thousands of miles apart during my undergrad and even more so when I was completing my two exchanges, they made sure that I never felt too far from them. In my first year during the first month of school, we were hit with a family tragedy. My older brother, one of my greatest role models, fell ill to addiction and mental illness. The stigma associated with this and the reality that he was not getting better, made it all seem even more unfortunate and heart-breaking. The one person who was meant to be my buddy and guide in life was no longer with me in the way he had always been. There are only the four of us and we have always been close, so the tragedy that surrounded him hit my parents just as hard. However, instead of them retreating and focusing only on my brother, who was home with them, they never made me feel too far or of less importance. There has not been a moment in my undergraduate career where my knowledge of their love for me ever wavered. I completed one major and three minors, all in different fields, while serving on various committees, boards, and having various volunteer commitments (many related to mental illness associations) and so I was often very busy and stretched thin. They, despite not always getting a response, would send me daily messages and updates and reminders of their love and how proud they were. When I was building models in the studio for architecture at 4AM they would sometimes stay up when they knew I would be up and call me in those late late hours to keep me company. When things got worse with my brother, they provided extra support by flying me home (4 1/2 hour flight) just for a weekend so I could be among loved ones. They have done anything and everything in their power to make me comfortable during the most uncomfortable and difficult times and have provided more support than I ever could have dreamed. They have held my hand through it all but also gave me wings to follow my passions and dreams. I had the opportunity to complete a course in Berlin one summer which was one of the most incredible experiences. With their support and encouragement, I also applied to the Killam Fulbright Fellowship that allowed me to attend one of the top universities for a semester which was Vanderbilt University in Nashville TN. That semester was one of the most important and memorable experiences in my life to date and came during a time when it was needed most. I was only there for four months but had not seen my parents in six months so my parents came to visit me during midterms and homecoming and provided the most supportive home to study all while getting involved with events at Vanderbilt even though I was not even a full time student. Their love of life, laughter, and people has provided me with the most outstanding environment to grow. Their understanding for pain, mental health, and strength has given me the foundation on which I have built so much of who I am today. They have never let me be afraid of failure or have ever made me feel small. To grow among people who recognize every small action as something that can lead to great ones has shaped me into doing everything with care and purpose. I hope as I start my graduate studies I am able to further emulate them and their love and care for all things and people.