Seniors Lou Fierro and Tom Noll have been roommates since their first year at Union.
In the beginning, however, their relationship was tense.
At first, “it seemed like he was really different from how I was,” says Tom.
“When we first met, it sort of reinforced that. Our parents said to go and walk around campus and talk. So we sat down on a bench near the Nott,” he continued.
That first talk was crucial according to Lou, who recalls the initial encounter.
Lou recounts, “I felt like I was talking to a wall and bouncing my own voice off of it.”
In many ways, Lou and Tom’s experiences are comparable to most first year roommates.
For example, they had already made generalizations about one another before they had even met.
“I guess we came in with pre-conceived notions based on what we saw on our Facebooks and based on first appearances when we meet each other” says Lou.
The initial conflict between the two also manifested itself in a variety of ways, the most significant of which was sports.
Tom “hated soccer and refused to watch it,” says Lou.
“I tried watching Nascar because it was on my TV, regardless of whether I wanted it to, every week. I hated it but I could not get this kid to look at a TV screen with soccer on it.”
“I looked at a soccer game!” Tom rebuts.
The turning point in came by chance, when they ended up working together at Messa Rink as part of their work-study.
The two “worked at the rink… at basically the same time,” says Tom. “I was supposed to work at facilities but then I hurt my back.
I played hockey when I was younger, so I wanted to work at the rink.” he continues.
Lou continued, “They just so happened to put us in the exact same time slot. I don’t think they realized we were roommates at first.”
After the fall of sophomore year, something changed.
”It was just some sense that built over time,” explains Tom.
“I never actually thought about the reason why I stayed. I must have gotten a sense that after the first year, our friendship could grow further, and that it was something special” he continued.
In addition, Lou and Tom joined the same fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, in the winter and spring of 2013 respectively.
Since then, the two have become inseparable.
Tom stated, “I know that he’s my closest friend, my best friend.”
In practice, this has meant that the two have come to each other’s aid on multiple occasions.
One of these times was when Tom was struck with food poisoning.
“I had to take him to the hospital and they didn’t put him in a room, they just left him in a hallway.
I think we got there around midnight and I was yelling at the staff to put him in a room and they were not putting him in a room” remembers Lou.
“Finally they got him a blanket and said I could leave. It was seven o’clock when I walked back.”
If there is one lesson from Lou and Tom’s friendship that should resonate with roommates all over Union, is that only through eschewing the boundaries of their comfort zone that their initial dislike for one another evolved into a lifelong friendship.
Tom agrees, saying” before college, most of the friends that I had were similar to me.
“If you’re hanging out with people that are the same as you it doesn’t really do you any good as a person, because you’re not getting out of your comfort zone… being friends an roommates with Lou has got me out of my comfort zone. And I think that’s helped me grow and advance.”
Lou and Tom are now president and vice-president, respectively, of their fraternity.
Tom was recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Lou was accepted to work for Teach For America this coming fall. Both are expected to graduate with honors this June.