A birds-eye-view of the SLC Amphitheatre with students on the stairs

In 250 Words: Who Has Been Your Greatest Influence?

In the 250 Words series, the RU Student Life writers are posed a question, and in 250 words they each offer their insights. Share yours with us @RUStudentLife.


Robyn: You Become Who You Spend Your Time With

The most influential people in my life have always been the people closest to me. My family is small but supportive. My parents taught me and my brother a strong work ethic –  to aim high, work hard and value your relationships. My parents have nurtured me, guided me and comforted me. They hold the opinions I trust the most. They constantly inspire me to achieve.

One of my earliest life lessons was that you become who you hang out with, and this doesn’t change when you get older. I’ve always tried to be friendly to everyone I meet, but at the same time I’ve also become picker about who I spend the majority of my time with. I’ve learned to spot certain positive qualities in people, and seek these qualities out. I’ve also learned to avoid other characteristics. The people closest to you will influence you in many ways so I think it’s important to be selective, especially at an important time in your life when you are building the foundation for your career and making other important life decisions. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and make you a better person. Some friends come and go but the ones who have stayed have had a huge impact on my decisions and happiness. They have supported me and cheered me on and they have shaped me into the person I have become.

Sunita: The Courageous Older Sister

My biggest influence has always been my older sister. From the minute I was born she has always been my best friend, guiding me and teaching me, and giving me strength every step of the way. As as a shy introvert that is often afraid of so many things, I’m so often inspired by my sister who lives boldly and without any fear. I watch as her warm and kind personality can make any person her new best friend, and how her courage, determination and amazing work ethic can land her anywhere she wants to be.

I’ve seen life deal her some of the cruelest cards, yet with every adversary she remains the same loving and brave person she always has been. Growing up, she filled my life with books, music and TV shows that shaped my life and made me become the person I am today. Despite how hard it was, when she left home by herself at 18 years old it was one of the bravest things I had seen someone do and it in turn inspired me to chase my dreams and follow my intuition no matter how wild it seemed. Even when there was so much distance between us, she remained a constant part of my everyday and would give me pep talks on the phone and write letters to me with advice to get me through my teenage years.

Now that we’re living together again, I’m so grateful that I have her here because I couldn’t get through my university years – or any stage of my life – without her. My relationship with my sister remains to be the most precious and cherished gift life has ever given me, and reminds me daily that the power of strong female relationships can get you through anything.

Jessica: My Parents, The Hardest Working People I Know

I have come to the realization that my parents are my greatest influence. Growing up a first generation Canadian, I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of my parent’s love. Influenced by media and what I saw around me, I was sometimes resentful I wasn’t given the opportunities and luxuries I saw other kids have. Now that I’m older, I am incredibly appreciative of my parents. They are the hardest working people I know.

As immigrants from Vietnam, my parents have shared with me stories of hardship and triumph. They have told me stories about being in the same room as Death, and what the value of family truly means. They have reminisced about simple times, and the loneliness that comes with separation. My parents left everything and everyone they knew to embark on a new life. In 2013, my parents took my family on a trip to China and Vietnam so that we could learn about our culture and roots. The experience was shockingly beautiful. It made me realize all the selfless sacrifices my parents made.

My mom can be described as cunning and intelligent. She has a sharp tongue and wicked sense of style. She also holds inside of her a flame that never falters. Alternatively, my father is the most curious man I know. His thirst for knowledge is vast and unwavering. He is the type of person to sit with you to learn about religion despite being non-religious. In these ways, I find myself realizing the parts of me I love most about myself are heavily influenced by my parents. I am truly my parent’s child.

Danielle: My Encouraging Significant Other

The greatest influencer in my life has to be my significant other.

I hesitated a little when deciding to write about him. I was worried that it could seem as if I was saying that it’s okay if your boyfriend controls your life and makes all your decisions for you. I’m not saying that because that’s certainly not the situation. What I want to make clear is that everyone has people in their lives who push them to be better, do better, and strive for what will make them happy in life. My boyfriend does that for me.

He is such a hard worker and the work that I see him do inspires me to work harder as well and to explore more opportunities. I know he’s going to be successful and I want us to be successful together. He’s made me realize I am allowed to want for more than what I might once have thought I was worthy of. He encourages me to go for the goals that I want to achieve, no matter how lofty (who do you think convinced me I was good enough to apply for this job?) and no matter how ridiculous (I am determined to become a mom to five dogs one day).

I recognize the influence that my friends, my parents, literature and all these other aspects have had on my life, but right now, in this moment, the greatest influence in my life is my boyfriend. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying that.

Read more 250 Words questions and responses here.