As an incoming freshman, all I wanted out of my college experience was to fulfill my dreams derived from numerous films portraying college life and to earn a degree in something practical that would ensure no confusion upon graduation.

I have now almost completed my junior year. Having already completed three years, I think it’s safe to say both of these expectations will not be fulfilled. As it turns out, however, my college experiences have proven to be much more rewarding than those could have been.

With one year remaining, I still have no idea what career path I want to embark on and the social aspect of Pacific is not what I expected. Nevertheless, I feel I have acquired the necessary skills to make the transition from high school to the “real world.”

My first classroom experience was First Year Seminar, which pulled me into Pacific’s academic atmosphere instantaneously. Since then I have taken classes that have challenged me to think in new ways and strive to reach my potential. I have taken classes from professors who inspired me. I have also taken classes from professors I had to learn to work with. Both situations gave me skills I would call upon later.

I am not denying the importance of engaging and challenging classes but as a college student with a few years under my belt, my most rewarding experiences have been outside of the classroom.

It wasn’t until I stepped out side of my regular class setting that I was able to develop much needed skills I didn’t even realize I was lacking.

I started writing for The Pacific Index spring semester of my freshman year as a favor to my FYS mentor. I was terrified of going to my first interview and had no idea what I was doing. Continuing to write and work for the Index has turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my college years. The work I have done for this publication taught me to gather information, write more effectively and talk to people I would not have otherwise met. I’ve met professors in every department, which helped me explore various majors. I’ve talked with students involved in various campus organizations with important things to say.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a journalist is having the opportunity to talk to people about something they are passionate about. Whether it be their job, their research, their organization, their political views or their thoughts on current happenings, every time I talk to someone new I gain new perspective on a subject of which I was previously ignorant.

In addition to writing for one of Pacific’s student publications, my experience as a communications assistant intern has given me much needed experience in a professional setting. It wasn’t until I worked in an office that required me to apply the skills I’ve been learning that I appreciated my education thus far. I began to appreciate what I learned in the classroom. It also became pretty apparent I still had a lot to learn.

Reporting for classes and The Index has also forced me to get off campus. As I ventured into the city of Forest Grove and the surrounding areas, I realized this university’s impact on the community.  Pacific students hold work-study positions, volunteer and intern off-campus and often provide a great service to local organizations as a result. After talking to a variety of local employers and community members, I have come to the realization that the options for off-campus activity are vast and rewarding.

Although the class of 2012 is not subjected to meeting the requirements of Pacific’s four cornerstones, I now realize their importance. From my experiences so far, I can only conclude completing the four cornerstone requirements could be nothing but beneficial.

I have decided to take it upon myself to take these cornerstones seriously and fulfill them to the best of my abilities. Research and Creative Achievement, Civic Engagement, International and Diverse Perspectives, and Future Focus have become part of planning for the rest of my college career. My plans to travel abroad this summer, write for student publications, participate in community service projects with my sorority, intern in fields related to my major and complete my senior capstone project are all results of the inspiration I have received from my time at Pacific.

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