All good things must come to an end. So it goes.
I always like to say that people are at the same time, more complex and less complex than we make them out to be. Yet we all have something valuable to say about our world and our experiences. At this point in many of our lives, we need such insights.
College is a tumultuous time for many. I hoped that the stories shared in this column and the advice that was given would mean something to anyone that is having a rough time in college. In our first issue, “Generations Yap About Choosing a College Major,” I talked with college seniors, Julia Huinker and Irma Sandoval.
While Julia is a Social Work major and Irma is a Math Major with a Secondary Certification, they didn’t start out that way. Julia was originally a Biology major with a Pre-Physical Therapy concentration. However, she was struggling in her Biology course. Irma, on the other hand, started out as a Math/Computer Science major but realized she loved the Math aspect more than Computer Science.
“Math was always my strongest subject so I really enjoyed it. […] Math is an international language and I always loved that about it, that people from Mexico and Finland all understand it.”
They had both gone into college thinking they were on the right track. However, they encountered problems along the way, which sent them along a new track. It’s not that they made ill-advised choices, they simply jumped the gun and found that their interests better suited them in different areas.
With Social Work Julia still found all of the characteristics that she enjoyed about Physical Therapy i.e. her ability to be able to help people and talk with clients one-on-one. With Math Irma still got to work with this “international language.”
The pressure was on for both of them as they were both aware of the social stigma regarding going into college undecided. Yet, when I talked to Professor Brien McHugh, I found out that while he also changed his major—from Theater to Broadcasting—he didn’t seem to face the same pressure that Julia or Irma did.
“Back then, there wasn’t that high expectation that everyone graduated high school and went to college. So, those of us that were lucky enough to go were given a little more latitude to explore majors and to be undecided for a longer time. […] Nowadays, the pressure is on to really pick that career you’re going to do for the rest of your life.”
In the end, Julia, Irma and Brien were able to impart some advice that students shouldn’t rush in to deciding their entire future. Instead, they should take time to evaluate their interests, get their general education classes out of the way, and if they’re so daring, shadow those doing the job they wish to do.
Yet, college is a job in and of itself that can be hard to manage. In our second edition, “Generations Yap About The First Semester of College,” I talked with another Social Work major, Sophomore Destiny Kwiatek and Jarrell Williams, who is currently working towards his MBA, about how their first freshman semesters panned out.
Both were excited to start this new journey and going into it were determined to make it work.
“[The first day] I already had my notebooks out with the class dates, where it was and what time.,” Destiny told me.
The key to their success was motivation and patience. They both knew that their only chance of making it through the first semester was to give it their all. So, they motivated themselves and if they needed help, they asked for it. Yet to keep themselves above water, they had to take it one day at a time. When I talked to Professor Barwa, he agreed. He was a diligent student, got help if he started to stray, and made sure to leave enough time for leisure.
When I talked with Gio Conte and Kyle Mitchell directly about their specific methods for combatting stress, their answers were similar, though, they hadn’t succumbed to the idea of stress too easily. Kyle believed that it was on the students to ensure they were ahead of the game. To him, if they stayed on top of their work and got help before they got in trouble, they wouldn’t find themselves stressed.
Gio agreed, “I genuinely think it’s mainly the students and how everything has been the whole semester for them.”
Among the work though, we learned that you have to find time for fun, too.
According to a BBC article from 2014, as we continue to work “shift hours,” work that goes well beyond the typical 9am-5pm workday, our bodies start protesting.
Our bodies are conditioned to function at full capacity during the day and rest at night. As we begin to push our bodies past their limit, we disrupt not only our body’s sleep cycles but also our cognitive functions—memory, speed of thought, etc.
In some cases, like with Kyle Mitchell (Generations Yap About Stress and Managing Stress), the importance of knowing when to throw in the towel was apparent:
“I remember when I first started, I would stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning and I was really like, diligent with like really putting [in] that effort […] Lately, I won’t stay up past 1 a.m. If it’s not done then it’s not done, that’s how I see it. I feel like my sleeping is more important especially, if you have an early morning class.”
In other cases, adhering to a strict sleep schedule wasn’t as important as long as the time spent awake was spent around friends:
“If I’m in bed by 10:00 P.M., cool. If I’m in by 4:00 A.M., alright, whatever happens. I’m not as worried about alone time to unwind just because everyone’s family here. So, I’m basically relaxed wherever I go.” (Alex Martin-Generations Yap About College Social Life).
With all the talk of school though, there times where we discussed the issues that concerned students that were of a more serious matter.
For our print issue in October, I spoke with The Encounter’s social media director, Ivan Flores about the presidential election and victory of Donald Trump.
For many, the 2016 Election was a contentious one with Donald Trump stirring many emotions with his campaign promise, to build a border wall between Mexico and the US, a promise followed by troubling rhetoric:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. […] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.”
The final straw for Ivan was an audio recording of Trump admitting he’d sexually assaulted women.
“As someone that had the potential to become our leader of what is the “free world” (the U.S.), Trump disgusted me. If it was someone else that said, “grab them by the p****,” he would’ve had no choice but to resign.”
In our November issue on women’s empowerment, though Trump was not the topic of conversation, freshman Madelyn Barrett and Victoria Bravo addressed their views on the gender divide, which can pave the way to sexism.
“I mean, it definitely annoys me but it’s also like, just like, so set into that environment that it’s like, you go in there knowing that you’re going to have to deal with it. I feel like if every woman would realize that and just like, work for themselves, to better that [workplace environment], then eventually, it would be less of a problem.” (Victoria Bravo-Generations Yap About Being a Female in the 21st Century)
“I think it’s always going to be there because there are always gonna be people that are just fine with it. So, just work to make a name for ourselves, and be hardworking, and be strong and be independent.” (Madelyn Barrett-Generations Yap About Being a Female in the 21st Century)
No matter decade you’ve grown up in, the same experiences and the same challenges befall us. In the end, we can take away these nuggets of advice: the choices you make matter but don’t seal your fate; preparation and hard work are the key to getting on the right track but if you start to go astray let your professors be your guide. Get educated about the world outside of yourself. Above all, learn to have fun, life is about making the most of the time we have. Have enough fun for a generation!