With the spring semester winding down, students in their final semester are preparing for graduation, and what comes beyond. Many have struggled through this last year - complications with the pandemic, with budget and program cuts, have made it difficult to plan for the future. But as with the spring semester, so does the hopeful end of the pandemic loom, and with things returning to normal, seniors reflect on their years at MWSU and offer advice to current students.

Allyson Moore is graduating this year with an English degree, currently working at the Dollar General and with no clear plans for the future.

“It’s not a fun job market to go into with COVID,” Moore said, and then continued sarcastically: “I mean, the job market was just ‘fantastic’ before.”

Nevertheless, MWSU Griffon graduates are moving forward into that unknown in a diversity of ways.

Gwen Lack is graduating with a degree in creative writing and publishing. Lack has previously received a degree in physics from MWSU, but found that creative writing was her real passion when she took a 200 level literature course.

After graduation, Lack is pursuing online graduate programs. She claims there are a ton of fun programs that can be done completely online. She’d originally looked into the KU grad program and Maryville, but decided to go the “weird” direction of doing it online. She also plans on working for small presses in editing.

“Editing for maybe "Amazing Things Press," I’m going to do that,” Lack said. “And then try to find small journals like that.”

Other students reflected on their time. Sydney Durbin is graduating with a degree in strategic communication.

“One thing that was always very clear to me in my specific department at Missouri Western was that my professors cared about me directly,” Durbin said. “My first few years of school, I really struggled. I didn’t think I was going to graduate college and I’m not sure they did either. They really took it upon themselves to not only make sure that I was succeeding in the classroom, but that I was succeeding in my day-to-day life.”

Durbin stuck with it and is now the design director for “The Griffon,” the MWSU yearbook.

“I remember how good that felt to know that I belonged somewhere and they wanted me to feel like I belonged,” Durbin said. “I don’t think at a larger university, I would get that kind of attention. I never felt like just another number here.”

Durbin’s advice for anyone trying to figure out where they belong is to keep putting yourself out there.

“Get involved. I never felt like I belonged until I put myself in that position,” Durbin said. “Get involved with things on-campus because you’re going to make friends and you’re also going to make strides toward your career goals that you didn’t even know were possible.”

Another student talked about her strides in her career goals during her time at MWSU. Caitlin Dillon is graduating with a degree in English and has been involved in several programs in both the English and communications departments.

“I learned a lot in my classes, even the ones we retake, like poetry and fiction,” Dillon said. “I always felt like I had a family here, which is kind of surprising because I can be a bit antisocial in classroom settings.”

Caitlin’s advice for getting ahead was to work hard and always keep an eye out for new challenges.

“I was given a lot of opportunities when people saw I worked hard; they put me in charge and I don’t think you get that anywhere,” Dillon said. “That’s something Missouri Western is great at is they’re always looking for people to step into roles. I was given a lot of opportunities here that I might not have other places.”

She also advised students to keep sticking with it and try new things.

“Get involved in different programs and be talking to your professors,” Dillon said. “All of my opportunities were given to me based on the fact that I have very good relationships with my professors and I expressed what I was looking for, and they found that for me.”

With all the experience she’s gotten from this university, she’s not as daunted by graduation.

“I’m not afraid of graduation, even with the crazy job market right now, because I’m confident that my experiences at Missouri Western set me up for jobs,” Dillon said. “Maybe I’ll have several pass up on me, but I’m confident that I’m going to find the right one and I’m actually going to be trained in what I need to do. I don’t think you’d get that at just any school.”

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