What? I’m graduating?

Flexibility is a part of the plan! | PC: Melissa Ratter

Flexibility is a part of the plan! | PC: Melissa Ratter

I’ve been at Union since Fall 2012. Guys, that was almost six years ago. Took me long enough, right? But, for real, when I came here in 2012, my major, Language Arts Education, was a five year program, and then I just had to add an extra year on that to go learn Spanish in Spain.

Despite the longer graduation path, I’m so glad I took chances like the Summer Travel Program and a full academic year with ACA. Through those experiences, I found my love of Spanish and teaching. I will graduate with two degrees: Language Arts Education and Second Language Studies: Emphasis in Spanish. Through those years, I literally found myself. 

I’ve seen so many changes happen at Union within that time! The most impressive changes, however, have been within my own self. It is amazing how different the freshman-me and the super-senior-me are. Oh what I would give to have a time machine so that I could go and give freshmen-me advice!

If I could do my years at Union over again, I wish I would have put less pressure on myself to make friends. In my freshman and sophomore years, I was so shy and quiet, always wondering what people would think of me. It was really hard to keep friendships because I always worried. If I would have just relaxed a bit, trusted that people are generally good, and gave myself some grace, I probably wouldn’t have struggled so much to make friends. I wish I would have left my room more often and been more social. It was so easy to stay in my comfort zone, watch a movie, and order some pizza--but the times I remember the most fondly are the times I went out with friends. 

I really enjoyed the ASB activities, specifically ice skating at Mahoney Park, rollerblading at Skate Zone (which has now sadly been reduced to rubble), and all the various venues for the banquets such as the Aquarium, the Cornhusker hotel, the Rococo Theater, and the Air and Space Museum. I think these activities helped me make new friends and got me out of my room for those Saturday nights.

Now, weeks before graduating, I’m excited for the future. I do not have a job yet, but I did get a Teaching Assistantship at the University of Wyoming. Frankly, I didn’t have plans to continue into graduate studies after school. My plan was to graduate, get a job, and pay off my loans. Then one day, my boss, Dr. Robison, tells me to look into a Masters in English at the University of Wyoming. I responded with a confused look--who would want to go to Wyoming? And yet, here I am, packing up my dorm room and planning a move to that exact state for the next two years as I gain teaching experience and a Masters. I know it sounds cliche, but God’s plan truly was better than mine. 

Without Dr. Robison, I never would have considered getting my Masters so soon, and I definitely would not have looked at the brochure the University of Wyoming sent. I also got support from the other professors in the Humanities Division. Dr. Cochran helped me find my love for Rhetoric. Dr. Fitts always brightens my day with compliments on my teaching. Professor Blake (recently retired), aided me in growing my relationship with God. Dr. Robison helped spark my love of travel through the Summer Study Tours to Central America, as well as gave me a job that would help me gain teaching experience.

One of the things I love most about my Union experience is the relationship with the faculty members. The faculty members at Union care about your well-being and they are willing to help in so many ways. My advice for students would be to find a faculty or staff member that you click with, you will not regret it. 

To all those graduating this may, I hope you can also look back on your Union years happily. I hope you had those faculty members who changed you. I hope you enjoyed those ASB activities. I hope you have no regrets. And I really hope that you allow your future plans to be flexible. Trust that God will give you the best opportunity and just go with the flow!

Melissa Ratter is a senior studying language arts education.