How I learned to be a Happy Virgin

By Jeanny Lavache

Being a virgin only became a burden once I stared college. In high school, I was always awkward and shy. I worried about everything from my grades to my appearance, but never did I really worry about sex.  It wasn’t until I got to the University of Florida that I quickly realized sex was everywhere and hookup culture wasn’t just a college stereotype.

It was hard listening to my friends go on about their thrilling sex lives, while I sat listening like an ignorant child. It was hard to date as well. Because I was a virgin, dating became tricky. I’ve never had a boyfriend, and this simple fact seemed to linger over me like a dark cloud that rained drops of rejection.

This is college. Who isn’t having sex in college? Well, that would be me. I was new to it all. I was “the virgin” in my friend group, and I would weakly cackle every time a joke about my gloomy love life was made. I wanted to date, and I wanted a boyfriend, but it started to seem like sex was the prerequisite to a relationship, or at least that’s what I saw around me.

Losing my virginity wasn’t something I wanted to save for marriage, but it also wasn’t something I was willing to do just to get out of the way. It was important to me and my fragile heart that I waited until I was absolutely ready, but I was closely approaching the age of 20, and I was slowly losing tolerance for my virgin status. I was tired of being seen as an infant.

Listening to stories about random hookups and friends with benefits arrangements became so normal that I started to believe I was the cause of my own loneliness. If only I was bold, confidant or just more outgoing. But honestly the whole idea intimidated me. I didn’t want to be someone I was not, but I also didn’t want to continue hearing “aww you’re still a virgin?” or “Wow, so you haven’t done anything?” Because of this constant sex presence, I started to believe that my conservative, old fashioned ways would lead to my eternal lack-of-love damnation.

So, decided I would stop hoping my “perfect guy” would romantically stumble into my life, and I took action. After much persuasion from my friends and convincing myself I wasn’t a desperate mess, I downloaded the infamous Tinder dating app. It only took a few matches and messages for me to realize it wasn’t for me. Every message I received from a guy followed the same format. I would be greeted with an extremely flattering compliment followed by a few general questions about myself, and it ended with them wondering if we could hangout. Everything would be fine until I mentioned that I was a virgin. This little detail got an array of reactions from “Are you serious?” to “I could change that” with a winky face. It was a waste of time, and I started to come to terms with my misfortune and prepared myself for a life of solitude and cats.

I deleted the app, and my life went on. I was still lonely, still a virgin and still the butt of every joke. I should have brushed it off and focused on school, but instead I allowed it to eat me up inside. I allowed others to project their ideas of love and relationships onto me, and I dwelled in my loneliness. But suddenly things around me changed. The stories from my friends went from thrilling to heartbreaking, and I saw the hurtful side of casual sex encounters. The fun friends with benefits arrangements turned into one sided relationships where sex was given in exchange for a limited amount of attention. This was when I finally snapped out of my peer-pressured trance, and realized I wasn’t the broken one.

I spent months trying to fit in, and it became clear to me that the people I chose to surround myself with were engaging in these activities not because it’s what college kids did, but because it was a way to fill a void in their life. For the first time in months I realized being a virgin wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I was still the “clueless virgin,” but at least I could say I was happy.

The Pup Behind the Vest

Jeanny Lavache

Sara Cork is using her love for dogs to give back to her community.

The University of Florida student is the only puppy trainer in Gainesville who works with the Guide Dog Foundation. She manages being a student and a trainer to a puppy named Calvin.

“As a puppy trainer one of my jobs is to socialize Calvin and bring him everywhere with me to expose him to different environments,” said the 4th year psychology major.

Different parts of Calvin’s training include learning a list of commands, being potty trained and traveling with Sara everywhere she goes. Calvin goes everywhere with Sara including classes.

“I usually pack a few snacks and chew toys so that he won’t be disruptive in class,” Sara said.

Although Calvin is a cute puppy, his training restricts him from being pet while he’s wearing his guide dog vest.

“Calvin has to learn the difference between being in vest and being a normal puppy,” Sara said.

There is an extensive application process before becoming a guide dog trainer.

“I had to apply and attend at least two monthly meetings where I socialized with other puppy trainers,” Sara said. “Then I had an in home interview where people from the foundation came to make sure my home was puppy proof.”

According to the Guide Dog Foundation their mission is to improve the quality of life for people who are blind, have low vision or have other special needs.

“The training Calvin is getting now is preparing him to help the person he will later be placed with,” Sara said.

It costs $50,000 to breed, raise and train one assistance dog according to the Guide Dog Foundation website. However, all of the foundation’s services are provided at no charge to individuals. Funding comes from the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations.

“I decided to become a puppy trainer because I felt like God was telling me I needed to do something that wasn’t about me,” Sara said.

After seeking advice from a couple who were also puppy trainers Sara decided that being a puppy trainer was right for her.

Sara will train Calvin for a year and a half. After she is done training him he will be sent to an academy for further training and finally placed with a disabled person.

For Sara the hardest part about being a puppy trainer is knowing that she will eventually have to give Calvin up.

“I know it will be hard but I know he won’t be gone forever and he’ll be changing someone’s life,” Sara said.