Students reflect on college experiences as December graduation nears

Elisa D'Egidio, Student Life Editor

There is only a little over a month left of the fall semester, which signals the final semester for December 2022 graduates. All that’s left is Thanksgiving, finals, and then the end of the semester. This is a coming-of-age time for students to celebrate and reflect on their college experience while looking forward to their future.

University President Steven Kaplan said, “Our December Commencement will mark an important milestone in our continued recovery from the impact of COVID-19 as we gather together once again to celebrate at the Oakdale Theater.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize this special group of graduates in person. They showed unwavering devotion and pride as Chargers in the face of great adversity,” said Kaplan. “I am grateful to have each of these impressive young adults as a member of our University family and eagerly anticipate their bright, bold futures.”

Luis Castillo, a forensic science senior, is a first-generation college student. For him, graduation signifies growing up and having the opportunity to apply lessons taught in class to the real world.

Castillo acknowledged his positive experiences at the university and what he has learned. “Being a brother of Alpha Phi Omega [ΑΦΩ] has impacted my college experience the most,” said Castillo.

“Being [the] Diversity and Inclusion chair has taught me to appreciate my culture and learn how to appreciate others. Being Service Vice President has taught me simple yet impactful ways I can give back to the community.” He also said it has helped him feel empowered and grow as a leader.

He also highlighted an anatomy professor, who he called Dr. Raye, and said “He taught me that the greatest limitation to what I can succeed is [myself] and my mindset. He has helped me become more optimistic and determined. He cares about his [students’] success beyond his class. Dr. Raye[,] if you ever read this[,] thank you for being such a role model.”

Like Castillo, Emily Johnson, a national security senior, views graduation as seeing one chapter ending and another beginning. With wonderful friends, the experience to study abroad and the opportunities to strengthen her leadership skills, she is grateful for her time on campus.

“To me, graduation is a significant step in life as it marks the end of education and the beginning of the work experience,” said Johnson. “Graduation celebrates the accomplishments and knowledge students have gained throughout life and signifies our readiness to enter our chosen fields and make a difference.”

Johnson is the president of the Alpha Sigma Alpha (ΑΣΑ) organization and has been a member since her freshman year.

“I joined this organization as a freshman when I didn’t have many friends and didn’t feel very at home on campus,” she said. “Over the past three years, the girls in this organization have become my family here at schoolWith this, she has gained confidence and improved many of her personal skills.”

For Sarah Carman, communication senior and another member of ΑΦΩ, graduation is a pay off for her late hours of doing homework and projects.

As a legacy student, Carman said that having a degree from the university is important to her as she gets to follow in her family’s footsteps. She said she is thankful for the hands-on experiences that have been offered to her, and said she feels ready for the workforce.

The Winter Commencement will be hosted on Dec. 12, at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT. All commencement attendees must comply with COVID-19 requirements set by the university in place at the time of the event. For more information visit the commencement page.