For many students, Camilla Allison’s decision to attend UNM has a familiar tone. Her family offered to pay for her to attend a smaller college, but UNM’s financial benefits, and location in Albuquerque, were a major factor in her decision to stay in New Mexico.

“I didn’t originally intend to go to UNM, my parents were pushing me to go to a smaller liberal arts school. So, I feel like I sort of landed here serendipitously, it really worked out very well. My journey through UNM has been interesting – it’s been a process but I’ve really come to love the university.”

“I’ve grown a lot. Specifically, I feel like I’ve grown into my own skin. When I first came here I always felt like the ‘odd man out,’ whether that was in my residence hall community, or my classes. I didn’t dress the same way as others. I had different ideas. It was really difficult for me to find a home.

“And I think my two best friends, who I met in a creative writing class, were the first people who really accepted me for who I was and we have this really close relationship. It was from there on that I decided that I needed to put myself out there. And so I started recognizing my shyness and overcoming it and making friends in classes and at work. I’ve come to embrace my personality and challenge myself.”

Prior to coming to UNM, Allison was homeschooled and took dual-credit courses at the Santa Fe Community College. It was during this time that Allison’s creative side was nurtured as she was exposed to photography, studio arts, and what became her true intellectual passion, creative writing and literature. Allison has also been able to channel her creativity through her campus jobs at UNM – working as a New Student Orientation leader, teaching writing to her peers at CAPS, and as one of the university’s student blogging ambassadors.

“(Writing for The Pack) has been a lot of fun. It’s this blogging platform that I have access to and I’m able to blog about events at UNM or things about my college experience that are important to me. I feel like at the beginning I was testing the waters, trying to figure out what was my area, trying not to be generic, and trying to be interesting.

“I also enjoy sharing my photography there and I feel like it’s a platform for me to be totally creative while benefiting my peers at UNM and the larger UNM community.”

She also credits her work on campus with giving her the increased confidence to create new projects, share her ideas and engage more with other students on campus. She’s hoping to channel that energy into “MOD,” a new fashion design student organization planned for the spring of 2016.

“I’m working on starting up a fashion design club here on campus, called MOD. I’m going to leave it as open ended as possible, while still doing a lot of research and gathering resources that I can present to them. But I don’t want it to be super strict and structured, I want it to be a community and a safe space for people to express themselves.”

At first, Allison questioned her choice to attend UNM. But as time passed, she looked back at this decision as one of the best choices for her personal development and her continued future growth.

“UNM has been my home, and where I’ve grown into myself. It really is a community where people accept each other, invite each other. I’ve found there is wonderful culture of respect which I think is really important. I’ve found so much acceptance here, and the diversity is what keeps me here, because I meet new people every day.”