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Alli Kestler
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Alli Kestler

Graduation year: 2021

High school: Waunakee High School

Hometown: Waunakee, Wis.

Majors: Creative writing, French, political science

Activities: Varsity soccer, SAGA Literary and Arts Magazine, French Club, Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society

Internships: Sportswriter for SneakPeekBooks, SAGA 

Post-grad plans: Teach English in France beginning this fall (TAPIF)

Why Augustana?

I visited a myriad of schools, and when I arrived at Augie, I had this strange sense of "ah, yup, this is where I'll be." I'm not sure what it was exactly, but walking around campus just felt correct, like there was no other choice that I needed to consider. It was a good distance from home, and they offered a lot in scholarships as well, so everything fell into place after that visit.

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

Yes and no. I think I'm still amazed at how quickly four years can pass and how much a person can change in that time. I generally don't have a set plan for where I'd like to be in my life because I enjoy surprising myself, and college has been filled with some wonderful surprises.

I don't think I really answered the question, but in many ways I think I would have made "past-me" proud of the things that I've accomplished and the person that I've become.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

There's that old cliché about how "it takes a village," and it's apropos. My family deserves all kinds of awards for accepting the fact that I have three very different majors, and that they support me in my screwy endeavors. I'm also grateful that they encourage me to take a break sometimes and stop burning the candle at both ends.

Also a big thank you to my friends and teammates (and everyone else in soccer) for dragging me (kicking and screaming, sometimes) out of my shell and generally being a lovely presence in my life. I am forever indebted to each and every one of them for making college memorable.

I'm also grateful for my professors who support my slightly asinine academic aspirations, and for not stopping me from doing three Senior Inquiry projects at once. I don't recommend it, but I appreciate that my advisors have had so much faith in me. You're all wonderfully interesting and kind people, and I'm astonished at my luck that I've gotten to meet and learn from all of you.

Peak experience?

I studied abroad in Liverpool in the spring of 2020, right before the pandemic hit. I've loved so much about college, but plunging head-first into a foreign country where I didn't know a soul was one of the most wonderful experiences that I've ever had the pleasure of doing (even if it was cut short – curse you, COVID-19).

By the end, I had made friends that I hope to have for many years to come, and Liverpool has become one of the few cities where I could see myself living in the future.

What surprised you?

How sad I am to leave. I don't know why this surprises me; I'm a painfully sentimental person. The culmination of all the things I've gotten to see and do, the people I've met – over in a blink of an eye.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I studied at Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, United Kingdom. I loved every second of my time there, and I will shamelessly encourage everyone to study abroad if they can.

What will you miss the most?

Seeing my friends all the time, whether it's at class or on the soccer field. This is one of the last times in my life where I'll have a bunch of friends always around that have wildly different majors and interests than me. It's also probably be the last time I'll play very competitive soccer, Life is weird.

Advice for the Class of 2025?

I have a sneaking suspicion that many people have said things like "take advantage of your time here because it goes by so quickly." They're right. Time is fleeting and finite, so do what only you can do and enjoy the fruits of your labor. College will be as fun and earthshaking as you make it.

"I will really miss Alli’s dynamic, creative presence in the classroom. Her curiosity, thoughtfulness and engagement have enriched the learning experience for all of us. I have been especially grateful to be involved with her perceptive and interesting senior paper in French."

– Dr. Taddy Kalas, professor, French