As I scoot further back into the blue leather chair and get cozy for the 10-hour flight to Poland, I can’t help but just close my eyes and smile as I think of how remarkable 2011 has been! Extraordinary moments and experiences, both big and small, have made, and continue to make, a lasting impact on my life. Here is a look back at the highlights that defined my life in 2011, month by month!


-Volunteering in the community for the last few times as a 500 Festival Princess at an Indianapolis Pacer’s Game and the 2011 interviews

Helping the former State Representative for whom I worked at the Indiana State House, Dennis Tyler, on his campaign endeavors to become the Mayor of Muncie (he was just sworn in to office too!)

My mentor and friend, Zarah, Mayor Tyler, and myself at the Delaware County Jefferson Jackson Dinner


 –Instigating an impromptu indoor snowball fight with my love bugs!

look at that follow through!


-Spending a week with some of my best friends in South Padre Island for spring break


Getting the fateful letter in the mail, after waiting 7 months, notifying me that I had been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and sharing the blessings of that day with my sister as she was named the “Outstanding Female” of Butler University for 2011

A day full of celebration for the Petersen family : )

-Meeting my Wish Kid Saige and her family, some of the most loving people I know!

Saige just got her port out at the end of the year too! What a fighter she is!

Receiving the 2011 John R. Emens “Outstanding Senior Award”

With President Gora at the Senior Awards Banquet

-Being awarded the “2011 Outstanding Student Award” from the American Institute of Certified Planners

With Department Chair Michael Burayidi and my best friend and scholarship winner Ryan Sagar


Graduating Summa Cum Laude from Ball State University and speaking at graduation

-Traveling all over Italy and Greece with my sister as our graduation present to ourselves and making some amazing new friends while abroad

-Receiving a summer position with the Indianapolis Colts as the receptionist and becoming a part of an incredible Colts family

Working a Colt’s pre-season game with Abby and Kelsey


-Competing for the title of Miss Indiana as Miss Central Indiana and winning the “Joy of Life Award,” the “Hoosier Leadership Memorial Scholarship,” and “Miss Congeniality”

My amazing directors!


-Volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Walk for Wishes and organizing a Miss Central Indiana walk team

Helping at the “nail painting” station during the carnival with my Wish Kid Sam

-Celebrating my 23rd birthday with my sister and our wonderful friends at The Cheesecake Factory


Spending perfect summer nights at concerts with my friends

-Celebrating my journey to Poland with a going away party at Howl at the Moon


-Leaving for Poland to fulfill my dreams as a Fulbright Scholar, meeting the amazing friends I would share this journey with, and being greeted by Ambassador Feinstein

-Visiting cities all across Poland including Krakow and Warsaw and much of Lower Silesia

A perfect fall day for frolicking in the leaves while in Krakow


-Planning my first European trip with a Fulbright friend, Cynthia, to Dresden and Prague (my new favorite city!)


Traveling to Sofia, Bulgaria for a week for our Regional English Teaching Assistant Workshop, meetings some great new Fulbright friends, having some of the best meals of the trip with some amazing company

-Exploring Germany and London with Alberto for 10 days, my first European “football” match, and making homemade Spanish crepes


Spending a week with my sister in Wroclaw, Vienna, and Salzburg

In front of the gazebo made famous by “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” We still can’t stop singing songs from “The Sound of Music” after our tour!

-Being able to give the surprise of my life by coming home for the holidays with my family and friends

-Continuing our annual family tradition of hiking outdoors to celebrate togetherness, health, and nature on Christmas Day

-Ringing in 2012 with my love bugs in Louisville at 4th Street Live!


No words could ever begin to express the gratitude I have felt this entire year for the joy that has surrounded me. I’m on cloud nine (fun with puns : ) and I am so excited to see what 2012 has in store!

Cherish Yesterday. Dream Tomorrow. Live Today.