Best friends face college separation


Carly Craig, Circulation Manager

It is 70 degrees and the radio plays faintly in the background. Seniors Gabby Leo and Jenny Nguyen sit in their conjoining backyards talking, only this time, the conversation takes on a more serious tone as the two discuss the fact that they will be attending different universities next year. The two have gone to school together and been best friends for the past seven years, but to both girls and those closest to them, it is a relationship that cannot be broken by distance.

Leo explains her reasoning behind how she and Nguyen have formed such a strong friendship.

“I think we’re kind of equal [in the friendship]. We don’t really get on each other’s nerves and I think we’re both kind of laid back,” Leo said. “So we kind of just decide things together.”

Leo’s mom, Mrs. Leo, adds her perspective on how the girls work well together.

“They do have different roles in their relationship. Jenny is like aromatherapy to Gabby. She calms her down and helps her see the positives in situations,” Mrs. Leo said. “Gabby encourages Jenny to do different things.”

Nguyen elaborates on the roles she and Leo play in their friendship, taking a more comical approach.

My role in our friendship is the shelter-giver,” Nguyen said. “She stays at my house when she’s mad at her family and her role in the friendship is the food-provider. She has lots of goodies at her house.”

Senior Johnny Nguyen, Jenny’s twin brother, also comments on what he feels makes the girls so good for each other.

“Gabby definitely influences Jenny for the better,” Johnny Nguyen said. “Jenny makes the bad choices, and Gabby tries to steer her away from [them].”

Leo and Jenny Nguyen share many similar passions and interests, such as cheerleading. Leo describes how she and Nguyen first became interested in the sport and how they have shared some of their best remembrances through it over the years.

“I convinced her to do cheer in the seventh grade and we’ve been on the same team…throughout [most of] high school,” Leo said. “My fondest memory would be [being] on the same cheer team and winning the State Championship with her.”

Despite growing up together as best friends, Leo and Nguyen have chosen to attend different colleges next year. Leo will be going to Michigan State University(MSU), while Nguyen will be attending Oakland University. Nguyen explains her feelings on being separated from Leo come fall.

It will be hard attending different colleges since I won’t see her everyday,” Jenny Nguyen said. “I couldn’t be happier that she’ll be attending her dream school, so I know she’ll be okay.”

Johnny Nguyen mentions that he was shocked that the girls decided to go to separate colleges, however, he does not feel like it will have a negative impact on their relationship.

“I was kind of surprised [that they are attending different colleges],” Johnny Nguyen said. “I thought Jenny was going to go to State with Gabby, but she ended up going to OU instead. Jenny is probably going to end up going to visit [at MSU] almost every weekend.”

Mrs. Leo agrees with Johnny Nguyen on how the distance will not affect the girls too harshly.

“Miles will only separate these two physically,” Mrs. Leo said. “Their friendship is the kind where even if they are apart, the moment they talk or see each other they just pick up where they were.”

Leo talks about the plans she and Nguyen have already made to ensure that their friendship remains strong during the school year.

“[Jenny] said that she’s going to come up a lot during tailgates for football games, and also, I’m being suite mates with [a mutual friend], so we’ll all hang out each weekend hopefully,” Leo said. “We live right next door [to each other], so when we come home we’ll always be connected.”

Nguyen feels that no matter where she ends up, she will always remain close to her childhood friend.

I really don’t have my plans set for the future at the moment, I’m just seeing where the wind takes me,” Nguyen said. “No matter what it is, I know that Gabby will be a huge part of it.”

Over the years, Mrs. Leo has watched the girls’ friendship strengthen and grow, and she acknowledges the mark that Nguyen has left on her daughter.

“I’m so happy that Gabby has such a special bond with Jenny because together they are amazing,” Mrs Leo said. “Jenny has been an inspiration both spiritually and socially for Gabby. Whenever Gabby mentions Jenny’s name, she lights up! Thank God for Jenny, she’s saved me on more than a few occasions.”