Freshman friends forever: 19 years,14 girls and one bond

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Friendships that last through college are impressive. Those that last years after are remarkable. But a bond that developed 19 years ago among 14 women seems to be one of a kind.

Fourteen freshman girls who lived in Deseret Towers in 1994 created a special connection and have been reuniting ever since. This year’s reunion was unique because it was the first reunion on campus since they all left BYU.

“Probably this most recent visit was the best (memory) because it symbolizes so much,” wrote Sarah Hill, a freelance writer from Highlands Ranch, Colo. “We were only missing one. To look around at these faces I’ve known for 19 years, I find myself getting choked up with how grateful I am to have these strong, wonderful women in my life.”

of the fourteen freshman girls reunite on BYU campus after 19 years. Photo by Nathalie Van Empel
Eleven of the fourteen freshman girls reunite on BYU campus after 19 years. (Photo by Nathalie Van Empel)

The start of this friendship developed, in large part, from the tradition of spending every night laughing hysterically over dinner in the Morris Center. Once the connection was made, these freshman friends never seemed to leave each other’s side.

“We all seemed to have some classes that coordinated,” wrote Margo Smith, a mother of five from Columbus, Ohio. “We were just all a part of each other’s lives in some way or another. We never did anything small. There was always a pack of us wherever we went. We found joy in being together and laughing hard about the silliest of things.”

Some of these girls knew each other before they started school, but collectively, they all became friends when they first entered BYU. It was by chance that they happened to all live close to each other and make this special bond that has lasted so long.

“Now with the hindsight of nearly 20 years of friendship, I believe we all see a more divine intervention in bringing us together,” wrote Natalee Gibson, owner of her own public relations firm, from Thornton, Colo.

Every year and a half, these ladies travel across the United States to spend time with each other. Since 2007, they have had reunions in California, New Hampshire, Colorado, Texas and Utah. Each place is chosen for a specific purpose, whether it be convenience or for a particular person.

“We had one member of our group who had not been able to make it to any of our reunions so a couple of years ago we all went to her,” wrote Anne Anderson, a BYU composite dance graduate from Lafayette, Calif. “At that time she was living in Texas so we found a vacation home to rent in San Antonio, and it was amazing to see her after all that time. The goal is to get as many of us there as possible each time.”

These women go through great lengths to maintain their friendships. They don’t do this because it is mandatory, but rather, because they truly look forward to spending time with each other.

“We all really make this weekend a priority,” wrote Natalie Burr, a sixth grade teacher in Idaho Falls, who is also a member of the Idaho Falls Symphony and Teton Chamber Orchestra. “All of our spouses have been forced to understand that we all need this weekend to rejuvenate each other. … I start saving my money and sick days at work so I can be sure to go. I missed the very first reunion and haven’t missed one since.”

Even outside these reunions, the once-freshman friends continue to keep in contact and solidify their bond.

“While we were in college no one had emails, cell phones. … What was Facebook? Not even an option,” Smith wrote. “We just had a special bond. Once email became something important, we started group emailing each other. … Sarah Hill started the Yahoo group site for us, and that is how we have kept in contact for years. It has been a blessing. It is like a conversation that everyone could be a part of. Now we love Instagram.”

Each woman leads a different life, across various parts of the country, but all of them are united over one common thread, which is that their freshman year changed them for the better. They experienced that critical time of growth together.

“We’ve known each other from before we really knew ourselves,” Hill wrote. “We’ve grown up together. And while we’ve come from different backgrounds and bring different strengths, we’ve had the same core values. Also our personalities are so different, things are always interesting. I think that’s what keeps us so united.”

After all these years, the freshman girls are now women with over 50 children among the 14 of them, including one set of triplets and one set of twins. Their relationship is cherished among all of them.

“I thank Heavenly Father every day for the friendship I have with my 13 BFFs,” Burr wrote. “As I sit here and type this email, I have tears rolling down my cheeks because the love that we have for each other is, like I said before, unparalleled. I will never find anything like it again, and I am grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to feel this way about these ladies; not everyone is as lucky as me.”

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