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As A 2024 College Graduate, Having Gratitude Is The Right Grad-itude

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

After graduating high school in 2020, entering college during the pandemic was an incredibly tumultuous, intense, depressing, but ultimately, rewarding experience. Everything about the beginning of my college career was marked by COVID-19: I started freshman year online from my childhood home and even toured the University of Connecticut on March 13, 2020 (aka, the day the world ended). Now that all is said and done, I have nothing but gratitude for my four years at UConn.

human connection

Human connection: something we were all desperately craving during the pandemic. Looking back, all of the friends, peers, professors, and staff that I met at UConn are truly the hallmark of my experience here. After being home my first semester, I made a last minute decision to move on campus in the spring — the most formative decision I made during college. Terrified because I knew not a single soul on campus, I took a leap of faith knowing I needed to meet people. In Hanks Hall (a dorm I picked because there was only one spot left), I met six of my best friends, and we haven’t left each other’s sides since. We decided to all move to West dorms for our sophomore year, where we found more amazing friends to complete our group. I wouldn’t be me without them.

What I love about college is that you are constantly surrounded by people. Although I consider myself an introvert, I love how much human connection you get as an undergrad. One of the best things is when you finally get to bond with your classmates after weeks (or months) of not talking to each other, when you need to rant about the professor or an assignment. Or, when you get randomly placed in a group project and you discover amazing people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. At my job as a Writing Center tutor, I was so lucky to meet new people everyday. If I didn’t have a session, I had such a great time gabbing with my coworkers. Going to Her Campus meetings each Wednesday, I got to be surrounded by dozens of girls and always had a great time. What I’ll truly miss about college is meeting strangers everyday who you instantly bond with, because you’re all experiencing the same thing and relate to each other.

doing it all & trying new things

Honestly, some of my favorite college memories are doing the most random and unexpected things. My advice: go to that free improv class. Enter a random giveaway (I won front row tickets to see Please Don’t Destroy!). Go to the party of a friend of a friend where you don’t know most people there. Go to a random club’s bar night (I see you UConn Actuarial Society). Go to Horsebarn Hill to see the sunrise. Watch a guest lecturer. Go to Moon Club at least once. Take a spontaneous trip to Boston. If your professor invites you to an end of the year party at his house/farm (true story), GO! Just. Say. Yes. Even if you have a bad experience doing something, you just gained a funny story and maybe you’ll learn a lesson from it.

I’m so grateful that I tried to do as much as I could during undergrad (and wish I could’ve done even more). I worked at the Dairy Bar, the Writing Center, sold clothes at sports games, wrote for UConn Magazine, was involved in Her Campus, studied abroad for a summer… the list could go on. I went on spring break with my friends, did Ooze Ball, went to frat parties and the bars, watched basketball at Gampel, attended UConnic, played bubble soccer, made friends with exchange students, experienced Halloweekend… again, the list could go on. With each experience, I got to meet new people and learn something about myself. When my friends planned a night out, I said yes (the FOMO is real). My college memories are now filled with time spent with my friends and doing the things I loved. College is a time to be weird and unhinged, and I’m very glad that’s exactly what I did. Any embarrassing or weird memory I have, I just look back and laugh.

learning about myself

Ultimately, college has taught me so much about myself and I have grown so much. Looking back at myself as a senior in high school is like looking at a completely different person. I’m so much more confident in myself than I ever was, I know what I like and what I don’t like, I’m not afraid to talk to people, and I’m more secure in being my authentic self. I studied the things I love: political science, French, history, and human rights. Without UConn, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And with that, I have nothing but gratitude.

As they say: Students Today, Huskies Forever.

Kayleigh is a senior at the University of Connecticut, studying Political Science with minors in French and History. She loves books, Gilmore Girls, fashion, and anything coffee-related.