OPINION: College is a defining moment

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Nettie Gastelum | The Daily Wildcat

A digital drawing of a graduate holding their cap and diploma. 

As my senior year of college ends, I find myself reflecting on the past four years and how my life has been defined by this experience. I’ve been influenced in many ways by the University of Arizona. This includes learning about my major and my minor and connecting with individuals along the way. I often pinpoint these specific areas that contribute to my educational journey. 

Defining moments can stick with you all your life. Some may think college will be a distant memory, though I feel it's an important accomplishment for me and also for my family.  

It is nerve-wracking coming to the end of a period of time. An era such as this can essentially help steer you into the decisions you make in the future. I feel as though a lot of my experiences have been outside of my college experiences, but also what I've gained through going to a four-year university.

I’ve adjusted my sense of belonging to the people I've met along the way. There are so many different people with various backgrounds. I’ve often looked through a different lens and found out more about myself through the people I've met. People who have had similar challenges, beyond the experience of college or within the institution took my understanding to a different level.  

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Tim Caldwell of Whitworth University said, “As I reflected on my life, I began to see a pattern: the times when I had grown the most were when I had struggled or gone through hard things. Difficulty was not something to avoid, but something to embrace.”

There are the positive experiences, but there are also hardships while staying in college. The stress of academics, social pressures and the pressures of feeling good enough. I struggled being confident and being the first person in my family to graduate from a four-year university. 

The defining aptitude of what can be perceived as accomplishment, can be for others such as your family. One of the big challenges was navigating this in a way that didn’t result in placing my whole self worth in making my family proud, but also creating this experience that has made me who I am today.

According to Hunter Rawlings from the Washington Post, “ ... students need to make a similar commitment to breathe it in and be enlivened by it. They owe this not only to their teachers but also to their parents and themselves. After all, the decision to go to college is a decision to make an investment in their future, an investment of time and money.”

I’ve come to learn, while we take in every year into our college experience, along the way, small or big, it comes down to how you ultimately feel about your growth. I’ve been shaped by the many people in my life and I wouldn’t take back my college experience; it’s helped make me into the person I am today. 


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Alexzandria Martinez

Alexzandria (She/Her) is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in psychology. She loves writing about music and playing guitar. In her free time she enjoys reading and spending time with her sisters.


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