Seniors prepare for life after Eastern

Loren Dickson, Entertainment Reporter

In less than two months, members of Eastern’s spring 2017 graduating class will be walking across the stage to end one chapter of their lives and begin another.

Some will be heading off into the workforce, attending graduate school, joining the military, traveling or finding other ways to experience life post-graduation.

Hillary Fuller, a senior communication studies major, is trying to answer a question commonly asked of seniors: “What are your plans after graduation?”

Fuller said her major is broad and gives her plenty of options, so she is taking the time to weigh them all out.

“It is not necessarily a bad thing that I don’t know yet. I just want to be sure that the option I choose is the right one for me,” she said.

Ariel Clark, a senior communication studies major, feels a mix of anxious, nervous, excited and uncertain when thinking about graduation.

“It’s relieving, but scary,” she said. “Overall, I’m mostly excited to just be done. I know it’s a totally new ball game out there, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Sometimes the Midwest is not the final destination for students at Eastern.

“I would love to go somewhere where the sun shines all of the time,” Clark said. “The weather here has really taken a toll on me and made me realize I want to get out of Illinois.”

Other students, like Fuller, want to stay in the state.

“This has been my home my entire life … If for some reason life leads me onwards to somewhere else, then that’s fine too,” she said.

The soon-to-be graduates had some advice for current college students.

Fuller’s advice was that the college experience is what students make it.

“I’ve learned so much about myself, who I want to be and how I see the world,” she said.

Fuller suggested students get involved and try everything at least once.

“It is important to step outside of your comfort zone and step into awkward situations,” she said. “Let yourself feel uncomfortable, because you learn so much from those experiences.”

Kenia Gonzalez, a senior marketing major, said she has four key pieces of advice for other students.

These are learning how to interview, to land an internship, not to lose focus and do whatever it takes to be prepared for life after graduation.

At the Grad Bash on Tuesday, students were able to learn about Eastern’s graduate school as well as do other graduation-related tasks.

Fuller said the bash made her realize just how real everything is becoming.

Gonzalez described Eastern as a “communiversity.”

“It’s a community and it’s a university,” she said. “We are a very friendly and open group here.”

Gonzalez transferred to Eastern after attending a community college for two years.

“I like the fact that I transferred in … but at the same time, I love this campus and sometimes I wish I would’ve been here for all four years,” she said.

Clark called her time at Eastern “one hell of a journey.”

“You learn a lot about yourself in college, whether it’s making new friends or figuring out what you like and dislike,” she said. “(Eastern) just really helps shape you as a person. I wouldn’t trade these years for anything.”

The deadline for seniors graduating this May to register their cap and gown is April 1.


Loren Dickson can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]