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Graduating students share thoughts on post-college life

Students+either+have+their+lives+planned+out+or+are+just+enjoying+what+is+left+of+their+college+life.+Photo+credit%3A+Elizabeth+Helmer
Students either have their lives planned out or are just enjoying what is left of their college life. Photo credit: Elizabeth Helmer

Students either have their lives planned out or are just enjoying what is left of their college life. Photo credit: Elizabeth Helmer

Students either have their lives planned out or are just enjoying what is left of their college life. Photo credit: Elizabeth Helmer

Elizabeth Helmer

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Disclaimer: This article reflects the views of the individual reporter, not the views of The Orion.

Chico State students are to receive their diplomas next week, marking that they have answered all the questions needed to earn their degree. But there’s one question left that every graduate needs to answer: Now what?

I interviewed many soon-to-be Chico graduates who revealed their plans, their fears, their hopes and their advice for fellow Wildcats that are soon to be in the same position.

According to plan

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Annie Michelotti is graduating form the credentialed program. Photo credit: Elizabeth Helmer

Annie Michelotti belongs in the front of a classroom. Going into college, she knew she wanted to be an elementary school teacher in her home school district in Modesto. Five years later, she landed a job as a first grade teacher in that exact district.

“I’m so ready. I’ve been doing student teaching for a full year and I’m so done,” she said. “I want to do it all myself. I wish I could do it right now.”

Most college students change their majors at least once, many changing up to three times in their college careers. But liberal studies was Michelotti’s calling from the beginning.

Not only did the aspect of teaching appeal to her, but the setup of the major and its pathway. “I feel like I could have never had a major that was really broad and general, because I’m the type of person who needs structure,” Michelotti said. “If I had the option of being hired anywhere, I wouldn’t know where to go.”

Despite being excited to leave, Michelotti is sentimental about leaving some of her friends and mentors she made along the way. She accredits professor Linda Mobilio-Keeling as the person who helped her the most with the transition when Michelotti came here as a transfer student.

“I was coming through a new city, first time really away from home, and I was freaked out and she just made the transition so easy and she was so supportive,” Michelotti said. “I feel like she’s my Chico mom.”

An early stability

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Nate Carney is a fifth-year senior graduating with a degree in civil engineering. Photo credit: Elizabeth Helmer

Freshman Nate Carney’s only post-graduate goal was to get a job. Now, Nate is set to make up to $90,000 a year as soon as he accepts his degree.

Carney is graduating after five years of studying civil engineering at Chico State. “I’m glad I didn’t do it in four years,” Carney said. “Because five years went by just as fast.”

When Carney tells me he could make up to $90,000 a year, I laugh with wonderment, knowing I and many of my fellow liberal studies majors could only dream of stability like that right after college.

Carney, however, feels like his luck may be too good to be true, and getting a job now doesn’t mean stability forever.

“You’ve been going to school your whole life. You know that in August school’s coming and you know your breaks and stuff. I know I have a job, but what’s happening after that? You’re going into the real world,” he shakes his head in sudden realization. “Whoa! That’s kinda scary to think about.”

Confidence in the unknown

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Sam Wolfson is a senior graduating with a degree in public relations. Photo credit: Elizabeth Helmer

Sam Wolfson never stopped smiling during his interview. Talking about the future is a daunting task for most people, but Wolfson speaks about it with confidence, despite the fact he has no immediate plans.

“I’ve just been trying to enjoy my last semester, you know? I’m not trying to rush into it.” In fact, Wolfson csays he’s turned down job offers to wait on a company that better suits his personality and work style.

“When I go home, getting a job will be my main focus, but for right now I’m just enjoying the time I have.”

I ask Wolfson if he as any regrets, and he shakes his head with a knowing smile.

“Honestly? No.” Wolfson said he found his place at Chico State, especially after joining Greek life his junior year. “It’s so crazy because I remember my first day of school and seeing 1,600 students roaming around, and I’m like, I have no idea who these kids are. Now every other face is recognizable.”

Right on cue, a friend calls to him from across the gauntlet, and Sam responds with the classic frat boy greeting, “Asuh!”

Final Words

The upcoming week will be a week of lasts. Last final, last essay, last coffee from Common Grounds, last walk in Bidwell Park and last time seeing friends.

These graduates know that, but they also know that the months ahead will be a time of firsts.

Elizabeth Helmer can be reached at [email protected] or @lizziehelmer on Twitter.

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Graduating students share thoughts on post-college life