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Preparing to part: Seniors detail post-college plans
The end of the year brings many feelings. For some, it’s a time of stress. For others, a time of relief. And still others, a time of joy. For many seniors graduating on May 15, 2022, the end of the year rolls all of these emotions into one as they prepare to leave Bethel College for the final time. Some already know where they’re going and others are letting the road take them where it will.
One Bethel student graduating in the next month is Emma Beachy, senior from Kalona, Iowa. This fall, Beachy will be beginning a fully-funded PhD program in musicology at the University of Michigan.
Beachy recently presented her senior seminar, entitled, “Mary Oyer: Social Consciousness and Mennonite Music.” In how to uphold Bethel’s legacy, Beachy gave some progress-minded encouragement to present and future students.
“As students, we get to choose the traditions and legacies we uphold. I think there are good things about Bethel College, but there are also extremely harmful ones, and I hope that current and future students are able to get what they need from this institution and improve it without feeling beholden to a specific vision or legacy,” Beachy said.
Aside from Beachy, many seniors have been accepted to graduate schools. One such student is Thomas Kucera, senior from Wichita, who is majoring in history and political science. At Kansas University, he will be pursuing a degree in Law.
For Antonino (Nino) Mangiapane, senior from North Rhine, Germany, this last semester has been spent taking classes and interning at Everence, just down the road. Like many seniors around this time, Mangiapane has been busy applying to jobs and looking for a place to live.
“There’s some uncertainty right now. I’m still eagerly awaiting an answer from anyone I’ve applied to. Right now, my focus is on graduating and finding a job. From there it goes to finding an apartment,” Mangiapane said.
After graduation, Mangiapane hopes to get a job that will help people, using what he’s learned from his time at Everence and his education at Bethel College.
“I think what a lot of people in business don't think about is how their operations affect other people. Everence has taught me that it's also important to look at the individual. You have to look at each person to assess what the best solution for the problem is. Each situation desires a different vocabulary and a different character of you,” Mangiapane said.
Still other seniors will be engaging in service this summer and next semester, rather than entering the workforce immediately.
“I feel like participating in service gives me a chance to practice thinking outside of myself and caring for others in the world, which is something I have had less opportunity to do in school,” Bethany Powls, senior from Garnett, Ks., said.
While Powls is headed to Alaska this summer in a ministry-related service opportunity, Rachel Miller, senior from Freeman, SD, will be headed to San Francisco in September of this fall through Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS).
“I first thought about doing a year of service the year COVID hit, and was unfortunately unable to do so at that time. I had no idea what my plans after graduation would consist of, and so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to take a year off and try to serve again,” Miller said.
Since growing up in a Mennonite household, Miller always knew about this program and felt she would be a part of it some day. Like Mangiapane, she hopes to be able to use her education in this experience.
“I am planning on working at a prenatal homeless shelter which will be very different and intense for me, but will push me out of my comfort zone and allow me to practice my social work skills. I am hoping to build stronger relationships with others and myself this next year as well as see how Christ can continue shaping my life for the work of others,” Miller said.
Another such senior who will be graduating on May 15th is Presten Fry, senior from Inman. Fry’s story is a little bit different from most seniors. He first attended Bethel College in 1984, but dropped out after a time.
“My story is a little bit weird. I was struggling with a lot of personal issues and I had depression. I didn’t end up finishing and I quit Bethel at that time. Later I had an opportunity to start my education again,” Fry said.
Now after thirty-eight years, Fry is graduating with a long-desired bachelor’s degree in music. This was made possible through countless hours of class attended on the weekends, while he worked as a special education paraprofessional in the Shawnee Mission school district, during the week.
To students of Bethel College, Fry has some encouragement and wisdom to share, that he gained through his experiences, knowing that many Bethel students will understand his struggle.
“I think it's important to be gentle with ourselves and what we want. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a teacher but I needed to take a few steps to get there,” Fry said.
There are many seniors graduating next month that weren’t covered in this article. They’ve put in countless hours of studying, procrastinating, and crying into their education, and now their journeys are coming to an end. However, this is just the beginning for the lives ahead of them.
From the Collegian to our 2022 graduating seniors, we wish you the best and a fond farewell. Thank you for your contributions and your examples. Congrats, grads!