Reflections as the Curtain Falls

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Article by Dylan Farmer

Senior year. It’s that time in every college student’s life when they are about to enter what we call “the real world.” But, as the curtain gets ready to close on this important time, what advice can seniors impart?

Gauging the attitudes of these seniors not only gives the Maryville community some insight into how its most experienced members think about the university, but it may also give our newest members some advice for the futures they are embarking on as we leave the stage to them.

Emily M., an English education major who will return to Maryville in the fall for a Masters degree in occupational therapy, said that her time at Maryville was filled with many great memories. When she looks back, one of the early moments that confirmed her decision to attend Maryville was her First-Year Experience, which students went on the summer before their first semester started.

“At my FYE excursion, I met a lot of people that ended up being in my USEM class. We went to the Science Center and the Spaghetti Factory, and it provided me an opportunity to get a taste of what Maryville was,” said Emily M.

For incoming freshmen, she advised, “Take advantage of everything Maryville has to offer.” She pointed out that the campus has over 100 clubs, which are great ways, she said, to meet people “and to build a sense of community.” She also advised freshmen to take advantage of the Division of Student Success and career office.

Ashley Berger, a psychology and sociology double major, has been “pretty involved my whole time here.” Last year, she was a Student Government officer and bonded with her fellow officers, creating some of her favorite memories of her time here.

Berger is a first-generation college student, and did not think she would be able to get through the experience. She now has increased confidence, having passed hard classes and tests, and has “really figured it out” when it comes to college.

Berger’s advice for freshmen is to “get involved. Don’t sit in your dorm room and not make friends. The people here are nicer than you think, and everyone is just as nervous as you are,” said Berger.

For Julissa Castillo, a health science and psychology double major, one of her best memories of Maryville is how much “social support” she has had.

For example, a mentor of hers, Dr. Finch, invited her to Thanksgiving because Castillo, who is from Texas, was staying on campus for the holiday, meaning it was difficult to find food due to Gander’s reduced hours. Not only did the hours cause difficulty, but she also did not have a vehicle. \

Despite this, she was “blessed” to be accepted into her mentor’s home, and will never forget it, not least because she learned about new foods she had never heard of, like Brussels sprouts.

Along the way, Castillo learned more about her background. Being as she is a minority at Maryville, “I started to take note of things that I never noticed” when she was the majority in her hometown.

For incoming freshmen, she advised having a growth mindset and not a fixed mindset. This means that a person is willing to take new opportunities. A fixed mindset is when someone believes that their skills and abilities are fully constructed and cannot alter.

People who have a fixed mindset tend to “burn out faster”, Castillo said. As a first-generation college student, society and others who may have doubts of success have always influenced Castillo to have a fixed mindset, and it was not until she came to college that she was able to transform it into a
growth mindset.

Ever since she began to explore these new perceptions, she has used her
experience in her presentations and motivational speeches.

For Castillo, the most unexpected thing about college was “the cultural shock.” However, you have the chance to get involved in many ways, she added. She advised students to “get involved and meet people from different backgrounds”, whether of a different socioeconomic status, a different ability, a different race, a different sexuality, a different religion and so on.

For Muna Abdella-Hazak, a psychology major, one of her best memories of Maryville is her freshman year. As she said, “I was kind of shy and quiet”, and she and her roommate stayed in their room during most of Welcome Week. People from the second floor came down to hang out with the two, even though they did not know them.

As a result of this event, Abdella-Hazak made friends who she is still friends with today. Along the way, she has learned that “if I believe that I can do something, that I can do it” and how to ask for help, a challenge since she has been independent all her life. She has also learned to understand people and their situations better.

She advises freshmen to “take every opportunity that you can, because sometimes those opportunities can lead you to places that you didn’t even know you could go.”

For her, the most unexpected thing about college was not having things go the way that she planned, which has helped her grow. For example, she thought she would have a nursing degree, but she has learned nursing is not for her. As she said, “I’ve taken a different path.”

She wishes she had not done so much “contemplating on things I’ve missed out on.” This is because the mindset made her miss more things.

In short, as seniors depart the campus, they have a lot to say. As a community, Maryville could learn a lot from what they know. Let’s start learning.

Author’s note:
As I myself get ready to leave Maryville after four very productive years, I find myself agreeing with a lot of what my interviewees have said. To seniors, good luck to you in the future. For incoming freshmen, take the advice seniors had to offer to heart. It’s going to be a fun ride. I know it has been for me. Au revoir, Maryville. I had a great time here!

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