As college ends, so do naptime rituals, sweatpants every day and the reduced stress of a pre-paid meal plan. The start of a new identity begins, as seniors embrace adulthood. Five of these seniors share their stories and advice with The Wheel.
Biology major Alex Kennedy ’15 entered her final year looking forward to graduation.
“I was excited to keep going with the stuff I had already been doing,” Kennedy said. “I had a plan for the whole year, and getting it all started was good. I wasn’t nervous about school specifically, but about trying to figure out what I wanted to do afterwards.”
To reduce this anxiety, Kennedy talked to St. Kate’s professors, who helped her plan out a road map for after graduation. The reward she reaped after many conversations was a list of networking connections and the life wisdom of professors, who explained how they got to where they are now.
Apparel design major Janet Bishop ’15 felt some stress at having waited until her senior year to start looking for an internship. Her hard work ended in an internship at Taylor Corporation, which is where she is currently working until graduation.
“There was no job posting. I just called them up and it was really awkward,” Bishop said of her first contact with Taylor Corporation. “[I just told them] ‘I have a lot of skills that I can offer to your company,’ and they agreed to meet up with me. It’s your persistence that shows them that you want the job.”
Through her internship with the Taylor Corporation, Bishop connected with an apparel company F/X Fusion, who offered her a job after graduation.
While Kennedy and Bishop found professional advice, international student Ngoc (Emi) Nguyen ’15 found a calling.
“St. Kate’s had a big impact on how I think about women’s empowerment. I took a Western Feminist History class with Professor Jane Carroll three years ago, and she showed the fight of women. After that class, I realized I could be doing something for empowerment,” Nguyen said.
As a communications major, Nguyen hopes to follow the university’s commitment to leading and influencing by helping young women realize their potential. Because of this, she co-created the South East Asian Student Association (SEASA) with Linh Nhu ‘17 in order to help students gain leadership skills.
“If you saw me in my first year, I was so shy. That’s why I invited first year students to be board members on SEASA: They’re shy, but they all want to do something. SEASA gives a safe environment for shy students to do what they want to do,” Nguyen said.
For Kelly Miner ‘15, being shy was the last thing on her mind. St. Kate’s has been a home for her since childhood, as her mother, Deb Miner, worked at St. Kate’s as the Director of Student Center Activities since Miner was young. She remembers quips from her childhood at St. Kate’s, like hula hooping in Derham Hall or having President Andrea Lee braid her hair.
“I wouldn’t have changed anything. There is such a small community here, and you know that people care about you. They want you to do well, and that is what I’m going to miss the most; the community,” Miner said.
With her major in studio photography, Miner plans to spend her summer working in order to save up enough money to go backpacking in Europe. After landing in Dublin, Miner will trek through Scotland, Denmark and Brussels, among other places. Her dream is to travel the world taking photos for publications, but St. Kate’s will always be in her heart.
“As great as it is to leave, I’m kind of sad. I’ve gotten comfortable here, which means it’s time to do something else. It’s always scary and exciting when you do something new–that means you are doing the right thing,” Miner said.
Psychology major Nicole Villanueva ’15 also sees St. Kate’s as home, although she did not spend her childhood on the campus.
“Coming in as a first year, orientation meant so much to me. Being an out-of-state student, it gave me a push to remember that this is home now. This is where I need to be,” Villanueva said.
Since then, Villanueva has been a part of over nine organizations on campus, including being an orientation leader and coordinator. All of these opportunities helped her grow over the years by teaching her things about herself that she never could see before.
“It’s been a blessing. If I was a first year listening to myself, I’d be like ‘What?’ I’ve grown and changed significantly. Here, the community and atmosphere taught me how to speak up and be confident. I’ve learned to be true to myself,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva plans to get an internship next fall, and, eventually, attend grad school for a job in student affairs. With all of the experience and wisdom St. Kate’s has given her, she feels confident about whatever her future may bring.
Armed with the St. Kate’s legacy, these seniors are ready to face the world. The lessons and memories they collected will guide them and bring them one step further in their journey, but they can always rely on the invigorating spirit of St. Kate’s within them.