Graduation year: 2015
Major: Political science
Minors: Ethics, women’s and gender studies
Activities: Phi Beta Kappa, Office of Student Life and Leadership, WAUG Radio, College Democrats, Mortar Board, Latinos Unidos, Pi Sigma Alpha
Post-grad plans: At least for next year (but hopefully for longer than a year), I will be working for a non-profit in Seattle through Lutheran Volunteer Corps.
Why did you choose Augustana?
Augie was just a lot of “rights” — right size, right distance from home, right liberal arts environment, right financial aid package. At the end of the day, it just felt right for me.
Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?
Not at all. I came in wanting to be a neuroscience major but quickly realized it wasn’t for me. I took a political theory class just because and knew I should major in political science instead. I also figured that I would go to graduate school right after graduating, but have instead decided that I would like to get into the workforce first. The past four years have not gone at all how I thought they would, but that’s OK. I’m very happy where I am right now.
Who helped you get to where you are now?
First and foremost, my family and friends. They’ve supported me in every possible way a person can be supported, and I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’m also grateful to all of my professors. I’ve taken a great variety of classes, and I’ve learned a lot — both factual matters but also more importantly, things that I can apply to the “real world.” I feel like my professors took a personal interest in my learning, which has been really great.
A peak experience?
Being in the beautiful Cascade Mountains with a great group of people and avoiding the frigid Midwest winter for six weeks during a study-away trip to Holden Village, Wash., last winter term was definitely a peak experience. I made some great friends and went on some great hikes. The classes were interesting, and I really enjoyed the experience of living in an intentional community that strives to live in accordance with values geared towards social justice and environmentalism. The time I spent in Holden was the reason I decided to apply to Lutheran Volunteer Corps — so it had a big impact on me.
My internship with the City of Moline this past summer was another peak experience. I was able to put into practice some of the things I’d learned in the classroom, and I learned a lot from the experience that I was able to apply in classes and will utilize in the future as well.
What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?
I guess that I could be a leader. In high school, I wasn’t really involved in much. I wanted to change that in college, but I didn’t really see myself as a leader. And though at times I’ve been very reluctant to take on leadership positions, I have been a leader for a few organizations and that was definitely unexpected for me.
How did you use your Augie Choice?
I used my Augie Choice to live in Rock Island this past summer while I interned for the City of Moline.
What will you miss the most?
Definitely the people and the sense of community and of being “at home.” I really enjoy walking through campus and knowing people. I am also going to miss living with or near my best friends and being able to go on spontaneous adventures and even just hanging out and doing nothing.
Advice for the Class of 2019?
Be open-minded and don’t be afraid to try new things, but also don’t feel like you need to do everything. It’s great to try out a bunch of different organizations or majors, but try to find one or two things that you love and just focus on those because you’ll get much more meaningful experiences that way.
“I've known Vanessa from her first year, and I have seen her quietly grow from a shy student at the back of an honors classroom to an outspoken advocate for justice. Vanessa has a bold intellect, bravely integrating knowledge and wisdom from multiple aspects of her liberal arts education. I've seen her sign up for an extra class, just because she was interested in the topic; advocate for justice by joining other students protesting on campus; and win awards for her insightful academic work. Vanessa is a quiet powerhouse who will continue to metabolize diverse experiences into wisdom and strength for her future. I can’t wait to see where the path to her future takes her!”