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Caroline Wator
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Caroline Wator

Graduation year: 2020

High school: Maine East High School

Hometown: Niles, Ill.

Majors: Public health, political science

Minor: Psychology

Activities: Delta Chi Theta sorority, Political Science Student Advisory Council, Phi Beta Kappa

Internships: Chicago Department of Public Health and Scott County Health Department

Post-grad plans: Looking for a job in health policy

Why Augustana?    

I'll be honest—my first encounter with Augie was when my school counselor handed me an alphabetical list of colleges to look into. However, there were so many things about Augustana that stood out to me, from the campus, to the class sizes and the financial aid that made it possible. This was the place for me, and I have to say I am very grateful it was not called Zaugustana.

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?   

Coming to Augie, I hoped to find a career that I was interested in and people I liked. I found much more. I have learned what type of work really interests me and have developed career goals in health policy that I am truly passionate about. I have also met some of greatest people in the world—from Augustana alumni, to faculty, to some of my best friends. I truly got more than I could have hoped for.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

Anyone who has witnessed me at my highs and my lows. These four years included some of the best moments of my life, but they also included some of the most challenging. I was lucky to have the friends, family and professors I did, to be there for both. They offered the confidence and guidance I needed during tough decisions; the space to vent when I needed somewhere to turn; and the jokes, gossip and never-ending fun to make every day memorable. These people certainly made the lows better and were always the cause for the highs.

Peak experience?

Last year CORE helped me attend a leadership seminar in Washington, D.C., called PLEN, for women in health policy. This was my first time in D.C., and I loved every part of it. I was exposed to so many amazing women in different places in their career who have pushed me to be more ambitious with my own plans. The seminar also helped me become more fearless when going for opportunities out of my comfort zone.

What surprised you?   

What surprised me was the number of connections I made. I feel like no matter what setting I was in, I always knew someone. Whether it was a new class, a meeting or a night out, I always felt comfortable knowing at least one person there. Even now, as I apply to jobs, I see how many alumni are out there, always excited to talk about Augie.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used it for my study abroad trip to Brazil my sophomore year, and it was amazing! Brazil is obviously a very beautiful country with beautiful weather, and I got to indulge in that for five weeks. Besides that, I made some really great friends that I am still very close with today. "Beleza"!

What will you miss the most?    

I was lucky to find a group of friends almost immediately upon entering college and have continued being with them every day, for the last four years. How crazy is that? I literally saw these people every single day for four years. We have had the greatest times, and I have been able to witness them accomplish all of the things they have set out to do. I can't imagine not being there for the next memories and the next big accomplishments.

Advice for the Class of 2024?    

Take advantage of every opportunity. Whether it is lunch with a guest speaker, or even a photo shoot that will end up with your face on a poster in the elevator of The Gerber Center, just do it! Use your free time wisely, so you can "yes" to your friends more. Your memories will be as valuable as your knowledge.

"Caroline shines as an example for future students. She is a fearless leader, a deep thinker, an excellent problem-solver and an extremely compassionate human being. She took advantage of numerous opportunities, including serving on the inaugural Political Science Student Advisory Council, interning twice (once in Davenport, Iowa, and then in Chicago), studying in Brazil, and presenting original research on political culture in Poland. Over four years, Caroline has grown into an amazing person and scholar."

– Dr. Mariano Magalhães, professor, political science