SC is where her heart is: Chelsea Lindblad’s short but remarkable journey to Alden Street

By Gabby Guerard

 

gabbyOn the surface, Chelsea Lindblad appears to be an ordinary Springfield College freshman.  Walking from class to class she tucks her neck into a turquoise scarf, to hide from the cold, bitter air howling across campus.  She walks into class with her backpack and selects a seat, stirring up a casual conversation with anyone nearby.  Her smile radiates throughout the room, as she laughs about the latest TV show or the newest trend on Twitter.  Little does everyone know what’s really hiding beneath her precisely winged eyeliner and long brown hair.

She begins each morning by getting in her dad’s car, and making the short commute to the Springfield College campus.  Staring out the window, she sees the same street signs, traffic lights, and everyday quirks of her hometown.  However the moment she turns onto Alden Street, everything changes.  She reads the archway that screams “Welcome To Springfield College Birthplace Of Basketball” and is filled with pure joy and exuberance.  It is in that moment she knows she can put the rest of her life on hold and escape to a place where she’s able to pursue her dreams.

As a psychology major, Lindblad has the same difficulties as every other student on campus: papers that takes hours to write, readings that seem long and tedious, and exams that are far too close for comfort.  However, these challenges aren’t even comparable to what she has had to overcome in her life.

As the fall semester comes to a close, what is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year” has quickly morphed into the most stressful time of the year: finals.  Anxiety is consuming the student body and leaves many sleep deprived, cram studying for hours, and calling Judd their new home.

Amidst the panic, it is only a matter of time before most students feel they’ve reached their breaking points.  It is in this moment when students are left desperately searching for comfort.  Although a college student body is technically comprised of adults, the one person who will always provide an undeniable sense of tranquility is Mom.

While many will resort to calling home to hear the loving words of their mothers in this difficult time, not every student has this luxury.

Lindblad cannot seek out her mother’s advice, because she passed away three years ago, when cancer claimed her as yet another casualty.

Jeanette Lindblad was a precise balance of compassion and grit.  In the food industry, her friendly spirit captivated customers to follow her from restaurant to restaurant, to be able to spend their lunch breaks talking with her.  Ever since she managed a Pizza Hut at age 14, she understood the values of hard work and perseverance, and it became clear that she was a fighter.

Although she had already beat cancer once before, by the start of Lindblad’s junior year of high school, her mother’s uterine cancer came back and was much more aggressive.  In order to beat this disease for a second time, she would need to take a very high risk medication, making her more prone to heart attacks.

On Nov. 11, her mother suffered a massive heart attack and Lindblad was the one who found her.

“It’s a sight I will never forget for the rest of my life,” she recalled.

After the devastation of losing her mom, Lindblad has always aspired to live a life that her mom would be proud of.  She refuses to succumb to her struggles in life, and in her mother’s spirit, she wants to make sure she helps others do the same.

“She was loved, and cared for, and she had an impact on people that she barely knew.  I’ll always aspire to be like that in my own life,” said Lindblad.  “Since having lost her, I’ve realized how important it can be to care about people and to do what you can to help other people.”

This has been her driving force for Lindblad at SC, where she is studying to become a guidance counselor or school psychologist.  Just as her mother always impacted strangers in a positive way, Lindblad is in the early stages of dedicating her life to a career built on that principle.

“I realized I wanted to have an impact on people’s lives.  Something where you’re helping people directly through their problems and their struggles,” said Lindblad.

There’s no college that better understands the importance of service than SC, making her feel a strong sense of belonging from the moment she steps on campus.

Yet with the semester coming to a close, it is not long before this friendly, lively campus becomes empty, as Lindblad joins the SC community in taking a break for the holiday season. Students are thrilled for the opportunity to return home to sleep in their own beds, shower without flip flops, and avoid walking outside to go eat a meal.  Most of all, students are eager for the indescribable comfort of being back in their family’s houses again.

However, not every student is able to experience this relaxing security.

Lindblad is unable to go back to the comfort of her own house, because earlier this semester it was ripped away from her; she lost the one place she could safely call home.

Having been struggling financially for years, it was no secret that her family had difficulty paying the house mortgage.  But, it wasn’t until a short walk to the mailbox one afternoon when she discovered a haunting letter that read “Foreclosure.”

“I got a letter from a lawyer that basically said, ‘Your home is scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction on this date at this time,’” Lindblad explained.

Confused, yet still unable to pay the bills, she was at the mercy of the mortgage company, and unfortunately for them, that company was relentless.

“I would have people come and peer through my windows,” said Lindblad.  “It felt like at any moment someone was just going to walk up to my door and be like, ‘Get out.’”

About a month and a half later, that fear turned into reality.

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“We got a note slapped up on our door saying, ‘You’ve got 72 hours to quit and vacate the premise[s],’” Lindblad recalled.

In a matter of days, Lindblad had to completely move out of a home which she loved dearly.

“It was my sanctuary.  It was the place where I could go to be alone, be myself, and feel however I needed to feel,” said Lindblad.  “It was more comforting to be surrounded by a home that my mom lived in… she made it ours.”

However the small, quirky, one-level home sitting upon a slab no longer belongs to the Lindblad family; her home is gone.

Instead, she lives at her grandmother’s home, which has proven to be quite a challenge.

“You’ve got to make sure she eats, you’ve got to make sure she bathes, you’ve got to make sure she takes her medication, you’ve got to make sure she’s okay,” explained Lindblad.   She must abide by her grandmother’s rules since she isn’t living in her own home anymore.

While most freshmen may dread Jan. 18, since it is the day that marks the start of the second semester, they can always look forward to regaining the freedom of living away from home.  They can walk back to Gulick, Reed, or Massasoit and do whatever they want, whenever they want to.

Lindblad doesn’t have this luxury.

However, that date is significant in that it’s when she will be able to continue her dream of earning a degree.

That marks the date when she will be able to once again get in the car and begin her commute to SC.  In only a matter of 20 minutes, Lindblad is able to leave her past hardships behind and travel to a place filled with new possibilities.  Knowing that her first college semester is finished, she will have a little more confidence in her stride, as she walks on the pathways across campus.  Each step will slowly become easier, as she reveals a subtle, yet proud smile for all of SC to see.

She may blend in during the chaotic passing times and crammed sidewalks, yet she embodies a very distinct quality.  While seemingly under the surface, it emanates through her everyday actions.

That quality is her unwavering attitude to never give up.

“You can choose whether you’re a weak person or whether you’re a strong person” explained Lindblad.

Not only has she proved to be a strong person for herself, but she will spend her entire life being a strong person for other students, who must overcome struggles in their lives too.

She chose to not only overcome these struggles, in addition to many more, but also take command of her own fate by earning a degree at SC.  She understands the value of this opportunity and states wholeheartedly that, “I’ve been really blessed.”

Yet in reality, the SC community is even more blessed to have such an extraordinary student here on campus.

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