Admire Greatly: Liz Nugent

Today happens to be one of my most favorite humans in the entire world's birthday.  She's been on my list of people to write about for Admire Greatly, so I thought today may be a perfect day.  Happy 33rd, Liz Nugent!

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You know those people that somehow come into your life that you are in awe of and you know that no matter what you need to hold on to them?  Liz is one of those people.  She and I met almost 15 years ago (holy crap, just did that math..  September 2003 - January 2018..  yep.  Almost 15 years.) as freshmen at Georgetown University.  Liz is the type of student you imagine when you think about Georgetown: brilliant, political, multi-lingual, involved, and social.  I had two of the four down: involved and social.  

What drew me to Liz so many years ago and still draws me to her now is how she perfectly embodies so many characteristics that seem to be in opposition.  At Georgetown, she was much more studious and intellectual than I ever could have dreamed to be.  However, she could also play beer pong and Friends SceneIt with the best of us.  She swam on our NCAA Big East swim team and still managed to get insane grades and have a social life.  Liz has always managed to be the smartest person I know without making me feel like an idiot.

On a professional level, Liz is one of the people I brag about knowing.  I constantly have to ask her to explain her work and "what level of academia" she is currently pursuing because it is so foreign of a concept to me.  She's getting better about owning her accomplishments, so let me brag about her for a minute: girlfriend graduated cum laude from Georgetown despite having me as a best friend that would literally come into the library and dance around her with beers to distract her.  She was a Fulbright fellow in Cairo directly after graduation and then received her Master's in Arab studies from Georgetown.  Somehow in between all of this, she got married and also worked as a private investigator for a bit.  Though that marriage wasn't one of her better decisions, she came out of it stronger than ever.  Over the last few years she's gotten her Doctorate from Princeton University (where she focused on comparative politics in the Middle East) and grown into an even more astounding person outside of her academic accomplishments.  Oh, and currently she's a research fellow at Harvard before starting her professorship at Yale next fall.  

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Liz's accomplishments in academia are enough to make me Admire her Greatly.  But, that is just one incredible facet of the badass woman that she is.    Liz is a fierce, fierce friend.  Through any ups and downs in my life since I met her, she's my person.  Even when I'm wrong, she's on my side (though she usually tells me I am wrong, but that she supports me!).  I'm not sure I would have actually graduated Georgetown without her, and I know I wouldn't have survived this past summer without her.  

I mentioned briefly above her first marriage.  Divorce is hard enough, yet she went through it while pursuing her PhD.  I could barely function after the breakup this summer, and this woman was researching Middle Eastern politics and kicking ass at it.  Despite a terribly tough time, Liz came through it.  She reached out and got help and recognized what she needed to do in order to make herself stronger.  She succeeded, like she does nearly everything, with aplomb.  It was with a giddy heart that I had the privilege of watching her marry someone that fits her so perfectly this past New Years'.  Nick is the exact person I would have picked for Liz if I could have put someone together for her and I cannot wait to see the life they build together.  (Especially the room that I will be sharing with my main man Leonard at their new home in New Haven..) 

 Leonard.  How I love him.

Leonard.  How I love him.

Liz is a great dog mom too - something we bond over, obviously.  In yet another twist to her multi-faceted personality, the studious, serious Liz is a total goober with her sweet pupper.  We both have many versions of songs we sing about our respective pups and have even lent a hand in making up new ones for each others dogs.  How many Yale professors do you think do that?  

Of all the wonderful things that Liz embodies (trust me, I could go on and on and on) my most favorite things are unable to pull apart from each other.  Her intellect, sense of humor, curiosity, and ability to poke fun at herself.  Liz is truly one of those brilliant minds that sees how much they know, but is aware of how much they don't know: so they ask insightful (and sometimes silly) questions.  She makes me think and reminds me that its okay to say, "I don't know - tell me more," when I come across a new topic that I am unfamiliar.  She can make me laugh with her sharp, quick wit but also with her lack of filter that enables some of the weirder thoughts to escape her overly full brain.  She is never afraid to laugh at herself, which makes her insanely intellectual brain even more appreciated.  I don't know what I would do without her, so I am just going to do my best to make sure she knows how much I care and hope that sometimes I can be the person to have the answer when she has a silly question.  Happy Birthday, Nuggie!

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Oh, it clearly isn't just me that is obsessed with Liz.  She and Nick were featured in the New York Times Weddings.