Today’s blog comes to you from Nicole Giuffre, Marketing Student in UCFs College of Business.  By moving from a small island, Nicole has reaped the rewards of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone:


I grew up on an island so small, that at times it doesn’t even appear on maps. When asked to point it out, more often than not I find myself pointing to open water in the Caribbean. Frequently, I get the occasional “wait… are you a mermaid?” However, there are a few things I learned coming from a small island. The first is that we do in fact take our rum seriously. The second, and I cannot stress this enough, is the importance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in order to grow as an individual.  If I did not push myself out of my comfort zone, had I not ventured out of my safe shell, I would not be here today, writing this blog as a student of the University of Central Florida. My name is Nicole Giuffre, I am twenty-one years old, and though I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I was raised in the Cayman Islands since the age of four.

Before I left the Cayman Islands to attend college, if I could describe myself in two words it would be “shy,” and a little “intimidated.” After a semester of staying cooped up in my shell at Broward Community College, I moved home for school, then left the islands again to attend an even bigger school at Florida Gulf Coast University. During these moves, I overcame many obstacles, like learning how to write in MLA format, and remembering to drive on the correct side of the road! At FGCU I was in an unfamiliar city, where I had to figure out where every Publix was, where every building in the school was. It was so big to me… I could have sworn I’d get lost everyday.

Eventually, I adapted, I came out of my shell and made new friends (friends I’ll have forever!), and I discovered new things like “mudding” and even a love for country music. Suddenly, Fort Myers became just another island, and despite being comfortable, I decided it was time to discover even more… I heard about the University of Central Florida. I heard how ‘big’ it was, and how ‘professionally oriented’ the school was compared to most. I did my research and decided, ultimately, UCF was right for me.

But it wasn’t as easy as just picking up and moving. I encountered a number of obstacles trying to enter UCF, such as transcript evaluations, which made entry very difficult. I spent two years trying to get into the school, and trying to help them understand I was in fact a great student, despite the crazy foreign transcripts. Eventually, my efforts succeeded and I was accepted this semester as a student of the University of Central Florida. Mind you, so far I had been to 3 different schools over the span of 3 years. Broward Community, University College of the Cayman Islands, and Florida Gulf Coast University –I’d say most people would have given up on their journey after their second college. I actually became infatuated with the idea of moving from school, to school, to school, expanding my knowledge and gaining resources from each every one. I enjoyed how each move presented new challenges to overcome.

When you graduate, remember, there is more to the world than meets the eye. I have met people from Sri Lanka, Germany, Colombia, Switzerland, Italy, India and many other places. Meeting these people helped me gain insight to the world as it is, and not through an individual lens. This wouldn’t have been possible without every move I made. As an FGCU eagle, I gained my wings, and now as a U.C.F. Knight, I hope to conquer every obstacle that ever comes to face me. Because, Knights, I may get lost on campus, but I am adapting with every step I take. I have grown as a person, pushing myself out of my comfort zone one step at a time, and that has made me more confident in every way.

I once describe myself as “shy” and “timid”, but if you were to ask me to describe myself as of today, I would say: my name is Nicole Giuffre, and because of all that I’ve experienced, you cannot describe me in a few words.

Nicole Giuffre

Marketing Student, UCF College of Business