On May 29, the Class of 2011 will walk away from campus with diplomas in hand. For many, the day is bittersweet as they look forward to life after college, but know they will miss this place and the people they’ve shared it with. These next few days will be a time of great reflection for many seniors as they celebrate their experience at Gustavus.
For most seniors, their favorite memories have to do with the friendships they’ve created and the activities they’ve been involved in.
“My favorite memory would be any of the four January Interim Experiences I have participated in. January Interim Experience was a ballin’ time to only have to focus on one class. Consequently, I have innumerable awesome memories from the time I got to spend with all my friends during that time,” Senior Theatre Honors Major Christian DeMarais said.
“My favorite memory is the 2009 Building Bridges Conference where I performed with the social justice group I Am We Are,” Senior Communication Studies Major Nadvia Davis said.
“One favorite memory is when the Forensics Team won a national title by finishing first place in the team sweepstakes of the President’s II Division at the National Forensic Association’s National Championships this past April,” Senior Communication Studies Honors and History Major Phil Helt said.
Still, others’ favorite memories have to do with times they sought after a thrill.
“One of the best memories I have from Gustavus is streaking in the Arboretum. I mean, really, what could be better than just running through nature with good friends in nothing but your birthday suit?” Senior Psychology Major Josh Plattner said.
“One night I climbed the art building with a few friends. We lay there looking at the stars drinking grape juice while one of us played the guitar,” Senior Communication Studies Major Nicole Meyer said.
Many seniors mentioned the loss of community they’re afraid they’ll feel after graduating. “It’s going to be such a big change,” Senior Nursing Major Laura Jensen said. “I’ll miss the feeling of community.”
“Gustavus is such a great community that I find it very hard to see that emulated anywhere I will go in the future,” DeMarais said.
Others mentioned the stresses that go with leaving their friends and finding a job. “[The worst part about graduating is] the diffusion of my friends,” Egger said.
“The worst is feeling the pressure to figure out what to do after graduation,” Davis said. “There were several times when I thought I had my mind set on going to graduate school right away, but then I would go back and forth about taking a year off.”
Plattner said that while leaving this community may be hard, he’s optimistic about life after graduation. “I am optimistic because I’ve already shared such a great deal of life with this place and these people, and I know I have so much more to give. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying.”
The best part about graduating for many seniors is getting a break from the stresses of student life. “I’m excited to be less stressed out and no more working on a thesis,” Senior Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and Political Science Major Brittany Richardson said.
“[I’m looking forward to] not having to take out anymore loans,” Jensen said.
Looking back, the graduating class had some words of wisdom in regard to academics. “Take each class one at a time. Find a good balance of extracurricular activities and clubs in addition to academics. It will make the time go by faster. Also, study abroad to experience a new culture, language and world altogether,” Davis said.
Helt also said that involvement is important. “The more involved you are, the more you love this place and the people,” he said.
“Major in something you’re passionate about, not something that will give you job security. I was originally pre-dentistry and I changed to dance, because that’s where my heart was,” Senior Dance and Psychology Major Lori Thomas said.
Richardson had advice for up-and-coming seniors. “Try not to spend your senior year stressed out, because it really rains on your parade,” she said.
Others had relationship advice. “Meet as many people as you can. Even if you think that you know everyone there is for you to know here, I guarantee you haven’t met everyone. It might be the most seemingly unlikely person that you will meet that will end up changing your life,” Meyer said.
As the Class of 2011 prepares for life after Gustavus, the campus community prepares for what the campus will be like without them next year. While many are sad to see them go, our community knows they’re entering a world where their influence will continue to impact all our lives.