Reconnecting their roots

SHS alumni reunite at same college after a semester and miles apart


(left to right) SHS alumni Ellie Brown, Emma Meredith, Hope Reynolds, and Aryssa Ramos watched the IU vs Purdue basketball game at Yogi’s, a Bloomington restaurant, on Feb. 18. photo contributed by Hope Reynolds

A very special friendship of four built through the years of middle school was challenged by something a lot of teens fear when leaving their hometowns after graduation: distance.

Unexpectedly beating the miles between them, SHS alumni Ellie Brown, Aryssa Ramos, Hope Reynolds and Emma Meredith found themselves randomly reunited at IU Bloomington after a tough first semester of college separated from one another.

“It’s just shocking, there is no way (any) of us knew this was gonna happen when we all left each other,” Ramos said. “It was such a coincidence, and to me, it’s like what’s meant to be is meant to be.”

Last school year, the four graduated and said their goodbyes to SHS knowing that each one of them already made their own college decisions. After finishing their high school careers, all of them parted their ways to campuses spread all over the country, one of them being as far as the University of Colorado, where Brown first attended.

Somehow, not intentionally, these best friends ended up on the same dorm, same floor and even more so, Reynolds and Meredith are now roommates. And if there were not enough coincidences, the girl’s RA at the dorm used to attend SHS too.

Before transferring to IU, where all four now reside, each one of them lived through completely different experiences in their previous colleges. Most of them wanted to explore independence and get that “college experience” by moving out away from home, but this didn’t work out as planned.

“I wanted to branch out and go to a school that nobody who I went to school with at SHS was going to, but that didn’t really work out for me,” Reynolds said. “But by week three, I knew I was going to transfer.”

For some of them, this process of realization took longer. For instance, Brown never fully acknowledged that her experience was not going the way she truly wanted it to until someone she trusted went all the way to Arizona and suggested a change.

“Somebody came to visit me in Colorado and they said that I didn’t seem the same, or as happy, so that kind of like knocked me into place,” Brown said. “I didn’t really realize that people transfer in college. I kind of just thought that you got stuck wherever you were at.”

(left to right) Brown, Meredith, Reynolds, and Ramos at Yogi’s. photo contributed by Aryssa Ramos

But from each one of those experiences, whether good or bad, all the girls took some life lessons that they still carry with them today at their new campus.

Despite those difficulties faced, they would still do it all over again because of everything they’ve learned from them, things as simple as planning their own schedules, making their own meals, and basically depending on themselves for the first time in their lives.

The four friends agree that everyone should experience being on their own before rushing into the decision of just sticking around the same environment you’ve always been exposed to.

“I was definitely grateful for the time that I had alone in my own school. Everybody had their own time to like branch out and try it out for themselves,” Meredith said. “But I think it working out like this, it really benefited us.”

For them, the first goodbyes after graduating were rougher than expected. They still vividly remember some of the most emotional moments, having to let Brown move out of state being one of them.

However, now that they are settled down, things are smoother for these alumni. Within the walls of the IU campus, the girls are sharing different degrees, lifestyles and more routines which is letting them see new and exciting sides of themselves that weren’t as built on yet through high school.

(left to right) Ramos, Meredith, Reynolds, and Brown with English teacher Sam Hanley after their graduation on May 27, 2022. photo contributed by Aryssa Ramos

Even though living so close to each other is simply working for them, the four friends do encourage people to follow their first instincts and not to base such an indispensable decision, like college commitment, on someone’s friendships. According to them, there is always a lot to learn from unfamiliar environments and it is usually never harmless to explore new places and to be “the new kid” again.

“It was a really good character development to have to be like a kindergartener again and being like, ‘Hey my name is Hope, do you wanna be my friend?” Reynolds said. “I learned patience for sure. It was the first time I’ve ever had to depend only on myself, truly.”

While at IU now, these best friends will keep on looking out for each other wherever their lives after IU look like.

“We are each doing something different every day with our degrees,” Ramos said. “I am very excited for each and one of us to see where we go off.”

They all know that at some point in their lives, not sure when, they’ll eventually part their ways once again, just like they did last year. But for now, the comfort of being together is what they are enjoying the most.

Looking forward to what’s to come in their future college experiences, and excited to make countless more memories together, the four of them are just planning on sticking together as long as they can.

“I know we are all gonna end up in different places after college, so while we have the chance to, why not (be) together if it’s what makes us all happy,” Brown said.