Q&A: Seniors reflect on their time at Lehigh, look to the future

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With only one week of classes left in the semester, many Lehigh seniors are reflecting upon their last four years at Lehigh, and how their college experience has shaped their plans for the future. Finishing school and transitioning into the “real world” with a full-time job and more responsibilities can be a scary time for young adults. Seniors at Lehigh and all over the world are preparing to leave their undergraduate lifestyle behind and move on to achieve future goals.

The Brown and White talked to three students who will graduate this May about their thoughts on graduation, goals for the future and what their years at Lehigh has taught them.

Q: What are your thoughts on graduating?

Rachael Miller: I’ve literally cried every day this week . . . not because I’m afraid of the future or don’t know what I’m doing. It’s because I’m so happy at Lehigh and these four years have been the best four years of my life.

Abby Farrell wearing a Lehigh cap and graduation gown. (Courtesy of Abby Farrell)

Abby Farrell wearing a Lehigh cap and graduation gown. (Courtesy of Abby Farrell)

Abby Farrell when she was a senior in high school. (Courtesy of Abby Farrell)

Abby Farrell when she was a senior in high school. (Courtesy of Abby Farrell)

Abby Farrell: I guess I’m ready at this point. I definitely am so happy I stayed a fifth year because I wasn’t ready to leave last year. It was hard with a lot of my friends gone this year but I think I’m ready to move on, especially (because) this year has been pretty low key in terms of coursework and I used to be on a varsity (tennis) team, so I have a lot more free time now than I used to. I was able to use the year to do everything I wanted to over the last four years but couldn’t because of my sport.

Olivia Conover: It’s that mixed emotion thing. It’s a lot of that.

It’s like two weeks of school left, so it’s kind of hard to not check out, but it’s also making a lot of bucket lists with my friends, like go on North Side more, go to the Bethlehem Star and the Bookstore Speakeasy.

I’m just enjoying my last weeks here because it will probably

be a long time until I see anyone else from here again, since no one else is going to Hawaii.

Olivia Conover when she was a senior in high school. (Courtesy of Olivia Conover)

Olivia Conover when she was a senior in high school. (Courtesy of Olivia Conover)

Olivia Conover this year, her senior year at Lehigh. (Gabrielle Pomerantz/B&W Photo)

Olivia Conover this year, her senior year at Lehigh. (Gabrielle Pomerantz/B&W Photo)

Q: What will you be doing after graduation?

RM:  I’ll be attending law school. I’ll be going to Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey. I’ll be commuting from home so it’s kind of going to be really different from when I’ve been (doing) here.

AF: I’m moving to New York City. I have a job with a company called Hazen and Sawyer, and I’ll be doing green infrastructure.

OC: I am accepted to the clinical studies program at University of Hawaii at Manoa, so I’ll be getting my master’s (degree) and doctorate in clinical psychology through that program.

Q: How has Lehigh helped prepare you for your future? 

Rachael Miller her senior year in high school. (Courtesy of Rachael Miller)

Rachael Miller her senior year in high school. (Courtesy of Rachael Miller)

Rachael Miller poses in front of Linderman this year, her senior year at Lehigh. (Gabrielle Pomerantz/B&W Staff)

Rachael Miller poses in front of Linderman this year, her senior year at Lehigh. (Gabrielle Pomerantz/B&W Staff)

RM: Being an English major has really helped me prepare. A lot of lawyers were English majors in college and I know that because writing is so essential and communication is so essential in law school and out in the world — I think that’s really going to help me. Also, I think being an anthropology major has helped me to be able to look at people’s perspectives in different lights.

AF: I guess I’ll find out pretty soon. I definitely feel prepared to enter my career, but then also one aspect that I think is more unique to Lehigh than some other academically rigorous institutions is that it is a really social school too. I think that is really important aspect, too, that I think not a lot of people consider, like networking and getting along with people.

OC: I’ve always worked hard at Lehigh surrounded by other people that worked hard. The psychology faculty is very good. I think they really help you on whatever path you want to do.

Q:  Is there any defining moment you look back at Lehigh and recognize?

RM: I got to carry the American flag in the first-year rally. That is my defining moment at Lehigh.

OC: I’m part of the choir here, so that’s made my Lehigh experience. Before freshman move-in day I auditioned, that’s how it used to be, and we had the weekend to be with the choir and bond with them so since then that’s been most of my time here. I’m definitely going to miss that because I don’t know if I’ll join a choir again in the future or find a group of people like that.

How do you think you’ve grown as a person at Lehigh?

RM: I have been told that I completely changed since high school. I think I’ve become a lot more confident with myself and a lot more confident with speaking to people and reaching out to professors and in advocating for myself. I think that being here and being independent helped me grow as well.

AF: I was pretty shy in high school, so it was a transition coming to school where there’s so much going on. I think I’ve definitely matured a lot, especially coming from a small town in Oregon, and coming to an area that’s a lot more populated like the East Coast and being exposed to a lot of different types of people.

OC: I know what I want to do know. I didn’t know that at all in high school. I knew that I liked learning about people and brains, but now after being at Lehigh I realized there’s a lot of things I could do if I wanted to be a therapist or work with people.

What will you miss most about Lehigh?

RM: I think the people. That’s such a cliché thing to say, but as I said before I literally have been crying once a day about this. I’m really going to miss my friends, my roommates and my sorority sisters.

AF: I think I’ll miss all the free activities. I was never bored my five years here just because there’s so much going on, whether it’s a play at Zoellner or an a cappella concert you can go to.

OC: I’m going to miss the campus. I think that every other campus I’ve been to is relatively flat and University of Hawaii at Manoa is flat and that’s always weird to me.

What advice would you give to an incoming Lehigh student?

AF: College is so much fun if you take advantage of everything it has to offer, so I would say get out of your comfort zone, get involved in as much as you possibly can and that’s how you meet so many people. The people you meet is what will stick with you in the long run.

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