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Catching Up with Four 2020 Graduates

by Maysea McShane, Class of 2022

Junior and senior year of high school feel like a world of stress. This is the time of SATs, ACTs, midterms, finals, college applications, and big decisions. This time feels like being thrown into a world of uncertainty and confusion. After all, this is when we decide where to spend some of the best years of our lives.

As a junior, I have tons of questions as to what my future college experience will look like. That’s why for this segment, I reached out to some of my amazing friends to see how they’re doing in college, and to ask if they had any advice for me as I near the end of my time here at Kennedy.

Their responses have helped me envision what college will look like and gave me direction on tests, courses, and activities I should be focusing on now as a junior. If you are starting to feel the college stress, these responses are perfect to get answers to some of your burning college questions.

Markella Neofytides

“College is about learning who you are and what you like.”

Markella Neofytides attends the University of Alabama, a public institution in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is a double major in Marine Science and Biology, and is currently on the pre-med track.

What do you wish you knew when you were a junior in high school that you know now as a freshman in college?

What I wish I knew as a junior is that there isn’t only one path that you can take. College is about learning who you are and what you like. There are so many opportunities out there. I’ve met so many great and diverse people who are all on different paths.  For example, one of my friends took a semester off to pursue an internship, another changed her major multiple times, and other friends were transfer students who didn’t think that their previous college was meant for them. I wish I knew before college that there wasn’t only one cookie cutter path. College isn’t the only option, sometimes you need to take a step back and examine what you want to study or where you want to be. There isn’t one option like everyone leads you to believe. Just keep that in mind when picking where you want to go to school, because things can always change.

What has been the most rewarding or fun part of the move from high school to college?

The freedom. It was very rewarding to see the independent and strong woman my parents raised. I was able to live on my own without a problem. The most fun part of college is definitely the people you meet and the events you participate in like clubs, Greek life, and a lot of other things.

Is there anything you regret about your high school experiences?

I enjoyed my high school experience overall, but I wish that I was more open minded and chose friends that were supportive and encouraged me to follow the dreams I am now living.

Did you know what you wanted to study going into college? If so, how has that changed? If not, do you know now?

Yes, I knew what I wanted to study when entering college. However, I am now thinking of changing my major to business with a minor in marine science, but I have not decided yet. Everything can change.

Do you have any advice on dorm items that are essential to bring to college?

Living in a dorm is an essential college experience. My top three items that I found useful while living in my dorm were slippers, really comfortable pillows, blankets, and a mattress pad, and headphones. People always say don’t pack your whole closet, but my Alabama closet is huge. I would say limit shoes but don’t limit your clothes too much. You’ll probably have room.  Of course you’ll also need the basics such as shower shoes, a robe, and cute decorations to make your dorm feel like home.

Do you have a favorite professor so far? What makes them your favorite?

I got to meet and know most of my professors since I did in-person learning when I could.  My favorite professor was my Medical Ethics professor Dr. Rachels. If you choose to go to Alabama, keep in mind that his class is really hard. However, I loved listening to his lectures and stories.  He is a great guy, he’s funny, and makes difficult topics to teach easy and approachable. His tests are super hard but he’s a great guy.

Do you miss anything about high school or living at home?

Honestly the only thing I miss about high school is my friends, but I don’t miss being at home at all. I love the freedom and living on my own in the South. Alabama has such a warm environment and no matter where I go, on or off campus I feel safe and love being there.

Do you think Covid has affected your college experience? If so, how?

COVID definitely has affected my college experience. I got COVID only four days into being at college, which set me back and affected my GPA a little. I think Alabama handles COVID well. They offer free testing to students and have hand sanitizer everywhere, making the classrooms safe for in person learning.

Isabella Eckhardt

“I have to make mistakes. That’s life!”

Isabella Eckhardt attends DePaul University, a private institution in Chicago, Illinois. She majors in Business Administration, and is double-minoring in Spanish and Environmental Sustainability.

What do you wish you knew when you were a junior in high school that you now know as a freshman in college?

Don’t stress over small details. You’ll drive yourself crazy filling out the Common App, so PLEASE, take your time.

What has been the most rewarding or fun part of the move from HS to college?

Oh, it’s so fun. Time management has been the most rewarding for me. When I have days where I have three assignments off my to do list, empty the dishwasher, take an online test, go grocery shopping, ride the train to the loop, hang out with my roommates, AND do laundry?? I know it’s been a good day.

Is there anything you regret about your high school experiences?

I regret stressing so much over always getting the right answer and never making a mistake. I took Spanish for four years at Kennedy, and I enjoyed it! But I always struggled with speaking, as I was terrified of saying something in another language and it not sounding “right.” Now, my Spanish classes are 1.5 hours, only in Spanish, plus having an immersive aspect outside of class where I have the privilege of speaking Spanish with Spanish speakers in the Chicago community. And to succeed in this class, I have to speak. I have to make mistakes. That’s life!

Did you know what you wanted to study going into college? If so, has that changed?

I’ve always wanted to study Business! The business and financial world has always been so interesting to me. When I used to work at a retail store in high school, I was always so intrigued by our total sales for the day and how factors like merchandising and marketing affected our daily outcomes. And now, I’m interested in the same concepts, but it’s more focused on how analytical and statistical technologies affect business decisions, and the effect such decisions have on improving the environment.

Do you have any advice on dorm items that are essential to bring to college?

I’m actually not in a dorm! My roommates and I currently rent a small, fully furnished brownstone in Chicago. So the place came with the essentials! However, I know I wouldn’t be able to survive in any circumstance without my art supplies. Whether it’s a dorm or an apartment, these locations are small. You need an outlet every once in a while to escape. For me, it’s drawing and painting!

Do you have a favorite professor so far? What makes them your favorite?

I’ve actually really loved all my professors so far! If I had to choose, I’d have to pick my business professor from last quarter (DePaul goes by quarters, not semesters). He was so knowledgeable on the multitude of business disciples and how business disciplines and how business decisions can vary across a variety of fields depending on what kind of data analytics are being performed. I had never been exposed to such comprehensive analyses or excel work before his class, and now I actually hope it becomes an aspect of my future career!

Do you miss anything about high school or living at home?

Overall, I don’t really miss living at home. I love being in a big city and having classes that are so concentrated on my interests. However, I do miss the easiness of high school and home. I knew where everything was, I had a car to get from Point A to Point B, I always knew everyone I talked to… my schedule and purpose are just completely different now, which is great! It definitely has taken some getting used to. I love getting to explore the city and experience new things though!

Do you think Covid has affected your college experience? If so, how?

Absolutely! My college experience has been affected in both positive and negative ways as a result of COVID. Although I haven’t had a class on campus yet, I would never be living freely in this kind of location if COVID didn’t happen. Additionally the friends I’ve made thus far in college have been through solely virtual communication, however, moving here has allowed me to venture out and meet up with other students, while simultaneously exploring the city. There are both downsides and upsides to my current situation, but I’m taking each day as it is.

Emma Pisciotti

“Living on campus has helped me grow as an individual, has introduced new responsibilities, and has taught me valuable lessons.”

Emma Pisciotti goes to St. John’s University, a private institution in Queens, NY. She is majoring in Childhood Education with a concentration in Psychology.

What do you wish you knew when you were a junior in high school that you now know as a freshman in college?

As a junior in high school, I wish I knew to take advantage of more of the college credit courses that Kennedy offers

What has been the most rewarding or fun part of the move from HS to college?

Moving from high school to college was a big change. I had to switch from living at home in a town that I have lived in all of my life to a brand-new environment with new people. Living on campus has helped me grow as an individual, has introduced new responsibilities, and has taught me valuable lessons.

Is there anything you regret about your high school experiences?

There is really nothing I regret about my high school experience. I feel the classes I took, the teachers I had, and my school involvement at Kennedy all prepared me well for college.

Did you know what you wanted to study going into college? If so, has that changed?

Since my freshman year of high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue childhood education. I had some doubts at the start of my first college semester, but as soon as I entered my first education class, I knew it was the right choice for me.

Do you have any advice on dorm items that are essential to bring to college?

In a dorm room, decorations, especially pictures, are important so that you can make your living environment feel more like home. The traditional items, such as school supplies, a microwave, and clothes, are all important to bring, but headphones and snacks have become just as essential!

Do you have a favorite professor so far? What makes them your favorite?

My first semester education professor is probably my favorite professor so far.  Rather than basing his class on tests and various homework assignments, he used each class as a discussion, allowing every student to participate.  Discussions helped me enjoy and understand the material better.  In addition, this professor helped me realize that I wanted to concentrate in psychology.

Do you miss anything about high school or living at home?

I  definitely miss my friends from high school as well as living with my parents, sister, and dog.  I also miss my dance studio, singing with the choir, and cheer practice.

Do you think Covid has affected your college experience? If so, how?

I think COVID has had some effects on my college experience.  COVID has put a hold on various clubs and activities on campus, making it hard to become involved in the school community.  In addition, many of my classes have become hybrid or completely online, preventing me from being able to meet and interact with my classmates.  Even with the current situation, I’ve made the best of my freshman year and I can’t wait until normal campus life resumes!

Arlene Flanders

“…college is great and once you find your way around campus and meet people you get along with it feels a lot smaller.”

Arlene Flanders attends Pennsylvania State University, a public university in Centre County Pennsylvania. She is currently a nursing major.

What do you wish you knew when you were a junior in high school that you now know as a freshman in college?

I wish that I knew to try harder on the AP tests in junior and senior year because if your college accepts your AP credits, it can get you a much better schedule for your freshman year of college.

What has been the most rewarding or fun part of the move from HS to college?

The transfer from highschool to college was really great. I like the freedom in picking a schedule that works best for me and not having the same classes everyday. 

Is there anything you regret about your high school experiences?

I don’t regret anything about high school. I enjoyed it and definitely felt prepared for college.

Did you know what you wanted to study going into college? If so, has that changed?

Yes, I knew going into college that I wanted to study nursing and that has not changed. If anything, I’m more excited now about nursing than I was when I applied for the major.

Do you have any advice on dorm items that are essential to bring to college?

Definitely bring command hooks and command strips for hanging things like your towels and wet windbreakers. Getting a long charger for your phone is helpful too especially if your bed is high up.

Do you have a favorite professor so far? What makes them your favorite?

I really liked my physiology and anatomy professor Dr. Malcos. Although the material is very in depth she is a great teacher and makes the material seem much less intimidating. She is also so sweet and really wants to help you succeed. If anyone is going to Penn State and needs to take BIOL 161 and 163 I recommend Dr. Malcos.

Do you miss anything about high school or living at home?

I miss seeing my friends from home, and I miss the comfort of knowing people when I walked down the hallway at Kennedy, but college is great and once you find your way around campus and meet people you get along with it feels a lot smaller. This happens really fast so don’t stress. 

Do you think Covid has affected your college experience? If so, how?

COVID has definitely impacted my college experience. I was really excited for football games and the fundraising events that happen at Penn State. Not being able to go to the stadium is a bummer and having the fundraising events like THON on zoom is sad. However, having online classes is both helpful and annoying. It’s weird not to be going to all of my classes in person but having recorded lectures is a helpful study tool because it allows you to pause and take notes.

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