Seniors face ambiguity of life after Lawrence

Nora G. Hertel

Most seniors cringe when they hear the infamous question, “What are YOU doing next year?” Whether they are tired because family, friends and strangers constantly pose the question or because they constantly ask it themselves, it’s a reminder for many students that ambiguity looms after graduation.
Some students choose to continue their education and enter graduate school the fall after they complete their bachelor’s degrees. Many other students will opt to take at least a year away from academia to earn money, travel and/or attempt to gain worldly wisdom and experience. Following are a few profiles to show the diverse ambitions and directions of this year’s seniors.
Maggie Helms, who will graduate with majors in English and government and a minor in history, was attracted to the Target corporation because of its “growth potential and its dedication to philanthropy.”
Despite competition from business majors at bigger schools, Helms earned a position as a Senior Business Analyst, and eventually she may seek a professional degree in law or a Master’s in Business Administration.
Her new job will take her through the post-Lawrence transition period, and allow her to save money to pay for her graduate level education without taking out loans. As she said, “I hate loans.”
Despite some reluctance to leave Lawrence, Helms appreciates the benefits of her liberal arts education, mentioning that her placement “reflects really favorably on what we do here [at Lawrence],” and will serve as an appropriate step to her further intellectual endeavors.
Another senior, James Hall, is headed to Europe to make use of his Lawrence education and figure out his future plans. Hall is taking his Bachelor of Music degree in trombone performance, Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies, and interest in oenology – the study of wine – to Vienna this July.
He’ll be working with the Institute for European Studies and pursuing a music career. Through the next few years he’ll gauge if he wants to continue as a musician, enter a theological institution in Germany, or get into the wine business.
With the next year set for Vienna, Hall is looking forward to endless long-term possibilities. “For me, the most exciting thing about graduating is the uncertainty of it. I’m sure the most rewarding parts of the next few years will be the things I never could have expected,” he says.
Government major Kirsten Gundersen will move from Lawrence to a six-month term volunteering with the NGO Art Studio in Tanzania. Gundersen will work with the soccer program coaching and organizing tournaments as well as tutor children and women.
While she’s happy to apply her interest in soccer and help others, Gundersen is really excited about the prospect of traveling and experiencing “far away places that shake up [her] idea of reality.” Without a clear plan for the future, it’s possible that this experience will open doors to opportunities and ideas as it challenges her with an expanded view of the world.
This sample of three seniors is only a glimpse of the potential routes 2007 alums can and will take. The possibilities are endless and as diverse as the students in the class.
While students at larger institutions or in more streamlined curricula may move directly from college to their career path, liberal arts graduates have both the freedom and burden to choose their own next step.
Lawrence’s encompassing education allows graduates to be flexible with their bachelor’s degrees. This year’s class promises to make tracks across the country and globe, adding dimension to their own educations, worldviews, and experiences.