Reflections from Graduating Seniors about their time at SLU


(Evie Nguyen/ The University News)

     As graduating seniors prepare to transition into a new chapter of their lives, it is important for students to take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments, experiences and changes over their college careers. Graduating and earning a degree is no small feat. Over the past four years, future SLU graduates have been challenged to work diligently, participate in extracurricular activities and create social connections,  all while trying to prioritize their mental health. While each individual has a unique experience, college offers a chance for personal growth and transformation despite its inevitable challenges.

     Both within and outside the classroom, students have been encouraged by professors and family to grow as individuals and explore their passions and interests, whether that be through classes or extracurriculars. For many, this includes finding enjoyment in meaningful relationships, exploring new ideas and delving into what drives them. For SLU senior Kiera Bates, learning more about herself and what she cares about was one of the most valuable things she gained during her time at this university. 

     “I feel like I have been able to explore so many different new ideas and harness my passions because of the clubs, activities, people and classes here,” Bates said. “I think being away from home has been really important for me to have a change of environment and being around new people and cultures that bring new experiences and ideas. I have really been able to really figure out what I want to do in the future and the career path that I want to take.”

     The people you interact with in college play a significant role in shaping your experiences. College presents the opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds and identities, which can result in interesting and formative relationships. During this time, there is much emphasis placed on “finding your people,” and while it is important to recognize this is not the case for everyone, creating these connections can substantially change your college experience. SLU senior Megan Mendenhall explains that her favorite memories in college have been hanging out with her friends in her apartment and creating a community within this space.

     “I have learned a lot about my friendships and the importance of friendship in my life and making sure those people in my life know that they are important to me,” Mendenhall said. “It has been nice getting close with people and realizing you aren’t just acquaintances and are actually really good friends and mean a lot to each other.”

   Navigating newfound friendships and experiences is highly rewarding but also challenging. Finding your role and making your presence known on campus can be overwhelming, especially for underclassmen. Throughout their college years, students endure some incredibly hard situations, whether that be due to rigorous academic demands or additional life responsibilities.

     As current seniors reflect on their time in college, many feel that it is important to recognize the unique challenges that have arisen during this time. 

 “From experiencing a pandemic, transitioning to online classes and things getting canceled, I definitely felt a lot of isolation and there were times where I wasn’t sure where the rest of my college experiences were going to go,” Bates said. “I had a lot of fear of the unknown but now as a senior I can say things did change and get better and I am so glad I have been able to have so many fun experiences that I was not sure that I was going to get.”

  Regardless if you feel as though you excelled in overcoming these obstacles or not, making it this far is an accomplishment to be proud of.  For SLU seniors Taylor Stalling and Vanessa Reger, it was important for them to tell their freshman self to trust the process and be proud of themselves. 

    “I would tell my freshman self that I am very proud of her for what she did and the rest of college is certainly going to be very difficult at some moments but it is worth it,” Reger said. 

    According to Stalling, she realized that places are guaranteed to induce change and that this change should be embraced. 

     “You have to submit to the process and trust in the Lord. It will be okay,” Stalling said. “I love SLU but it was not always easy.”

     With graduation on the horizon, it can be meaningful to reflect on how college has inspired growth and change, presented challenges and opened the door for new opportunities for exploration and finding passions. These past four years have been a testament to navigating new experiences and meeting new, vastly unique people. Those who are graduating are so close to the finish line and while this may cause some fear and sadness, it will hopefully also present excitement over achieving this milestone. Class of 2023 should be proud of themselves.

      “It really has gone by so quickly and realizing if the situation at the moment is not perfect does not mean that it is not still an important moment to be in,” Mendenhall said. “Get out of your comfort zone, because this is the time to do that, that is what college is about.”