Whenever I see visiting students walking around campus or in chapel, I always make an effort to welcome them or help them with directions, etc. I remember my visit days oh too well–trying to mask how freaked out I was, unsure about how to hold the massive orange folder on my campus tour, and sitting at chapel feeling awkward that my mom was taking a video of the worship team. I was beyond overwhelmed. But it was the kind words of students at chapel, or at Phelps dining hall, or students that gave us directions around Hope’s small, yet somehow very confusing, campus that made me think for the first time, “Wow, I think I really could see myself here.” 

And now here I am–about to graduate again. It’s funny how life can often feel cyclical. As a senior, I’m the furthest in age from these highschool seniors, yet I relate to them so much. I feel like I’m carrying around a fluorescent orange folder that seems to just scream to the world: “Ask me what I want to do with my life!” A wave of more decisions looms ahead. 

Although my senior year at Hope is certainly comparable to senior year of high school, it has also given me a frame of reference to truly analyze and appreciate the person I have become these last four years.

Academically, I have been stretched and strengthened. Spiritually, Hope has deeply impacted my walk with Jesus and the way I love others. Relationally, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the friendships God has given me, and I am proud of the friend I myself have become. Hope’s community, even beyond peer relationships, has given me incredible relationships with faculty and staff that will far outlive my four years of undergrad.

My professors have always committed time and energy to my learning in the classroom, but their investment in my life as an individual has become what I believe to be the biggest blessing that comes from small, private liberal arts institutions such as Hope. Several of my professors have hosted classes at their homes, set time apart in their day to meet with students to offer career advice, and seek to truly understand and know their students. Hope’s community is priceless.  

Senior year has been a compilation of favorite college memories and bittersweet lasts–the uncomfortable, awkward limbo of trying to soak in every moment and, simultaneously, begin transitioning to a new chapter of life. Among my favorite memories from this year are going to hockey and basketball games with my friends, leading a bible study through campus ministries, concluding my two majors with favorite classes, and doing life with my five amazing housemates. 

So many people told me that the college years go so fast, but I failed to realize how right they were. An entire season of your life–a profoundly impactful season–is jam packed into four short years. So to the incoming freshman or even a high school senior walking through their campus tour, I encourage you to live into every moment.

The terrifying new place that ripped me away from my hometown became a new home that I must again muster the strength to say goodbye to. But the education Hope has given me, the relationships forged, and personal growth that Hope has equipped me with will go with me throughout the rest of my life. And for that, I am grateful.

Published by Kiley Graham

Class of 2023 Hometown: Petoskey, MI Major(s): Business, Communication

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *