Last week I brought my daughter back to college. It was just the two of us, and we moved all of her belongings into her new dorm room. I thought about her move-in the year before, and realized how totally different her life is now.

One year back, she was “dating” a boy from Canada. The day we moved her in was the last day of his week-long stay with us; his last stay with us. I remember him awkwardly (and crookedly) pounding nails into the wall for her to hang some artwork. It left me wondering how many times this lad had swung a hammer in his life.

One year back I lectured her to get more involved on campus. She spent the majority of her freshman year on her bed skyping the dude in Canada, which I thought was a waste. She had made few friends during that year, so I urged her to seek out a club. I remember how proud I was when she called to tell me she was attending open houses for groups she had seen advertised on campus. That’s what the first week of school is all about.

And one year back the boy from Canada wasn’t happy that she was joining clubs and meeting new people. I told her that wasn’t a very good sign. She would frequently tell me about arguments between them, interspersed with her enthusiam for her newfound friends in her newfound fraternity.

And now it’s a year later. As I was pounding nails into her wall, I thought about the transformation my girl has gone through in the last 365 days.

She’s a member of Phi Sigma Pi, a national honors fraternity. She has friends that she goes out with. She participates in school activities, and is excelling in her studies. She also holds down a job. She spent the summer going on outings with her best friend from high school. And she broke up with the guy from Canada.

Her biggest milestone was getting her driver’s license. Yes, I know it’s a bit late for a college junior to just be getting her license, but to be honest, she really didn’t need it.

A year later, and it’s almost like she’s a different person. But she’s really not…she’s just the gal I always knew she could be once she got off her computer and joined the real world.