Beginning and ending transitions tell tales of anticipation
A freshman and a senior reflect on their past year. | Illustrations by Megan Josep / THE CHIMES
The beginning. The end. Two students venture into the unknown at different stages in their academic journeys.
Appropriately, most events for freshmen occur at the beginning of the year to welcome in the students. Freshmen enter their new home of four years greeted by Student Orientation Services leaders. Nearly all of the events directed towards freshmen take place within that first SOS week, leaving students to grow and create community naturally throughout the year.
Freshman Christian ministries major Maddie Skinner felt that though SOS week held many events, a good amount of students did not attend them. Since it took place a whole week before school started, freshmen did not have much planned for them during the actual school year.
“I think maybe if the SOS groups continued to do things throughout the year, there would be more freshmen events, but I would say there were just a whole bunch of events in the beginning and not really towards the end or middle,” Skinner said.
For Skinner, her first year consisted of immense learning, but it looked different than she expected. She assumed Biola had one like-minded community, but instead, she found various types of communities within campus.
“It’s so nice to see such flourishing diversity among the same kind of faith-integrated community,” Skinner said.
Beyond the community aspect, Skinner feels she has grown in her identity in Christ. When she first came in, she tried to act as someone other than who God made her, but through her first year of college she has experienced much growth. As she looks towards her coming years at Biola, she mainly feels anticipation for the growth to come.
“I’m so excited. I seriously can’t believe how much I’ve come to learn about myself just in one year, let alone like this world around me,” Skinner said. “It’s just so amazing how eye-opening one year of college can be, and so I’m excited to learn a whole bunch more.”
While most events for freshmen happen at the beginning of the year, the seniors cap the year off with a celebration commemorating their departure. The track to commencement begins with the graduation petition, which seniors must fill out when they reach 88 credits. Students often fill out the petition the semester or year before they graduate.
For senior business marketing management major Florin Homer, the festivities started after she purchased her stole, cap and gown with a group of seniors after class a few weeks ago. Equipped with her regalia, Homer took her senior portraits around campus last week as many graduating students do.
“I just took my graduation pictures this weekend, which was exciting,” said Homer. “It felt weird to be that girl by the fountain with her cap and gown on taking pictures. And then, yeah there's lots of exciting things coming up. There's the senior dinner on Friday, and then Baccalaureate, and the business school has a dinner on Thursday, and then graduation itself.”
As Homer laid out her event schedule, she commented that her last semester brought the most rigorous schoolwork and fun all at same time. While the semester was academically challenging, the end gives bittersweet emotions and anticipation of the future.
“My house is having a grad party, and then all of our families we're inviting for a graduation lunch. So yeah, there's a lot at the end that’s just fun stuff,” said Homer. “So it’s interesting wrapping up school stuff, getting excited about the fun stuff, and then also packing up all my stuff, figuring out what I'm doing next after graduation.”
As Homer talked more and more about graduation, the topic of reflection on the years gone by came up. She spoke of the first time she had a professor for a teacher, and how much relationships grew in and out of the classroom. Homer remembered the first time she ate at the Caf. Now, she cooks her own meals. She recalled how as a freshman she focused on the minutiae of everyday life, but over the course of her years here, she realized what mattered.
“[Graduation] really makes you do a lot of reflective thinking and especially as you're starting to say goodbyes to friends you think about when you first met them,” said Homer. “You start realizing that, ‘Wow, Biola has been so good to me and so good for me.’”