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Jessica Manly
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Jessica Manly

Graduation year: 2021

High school: Hampshire High School

Hometown: Pingree Grove, Ill.

Majors: English, communication studies

Minors: Multimedia journalism and mass communication, Classical studies in the focus of Greek

Activities: HerCampus, SAGA Magazine, Advertising Developers (ADs)

Post-grad plans: I will be working in the Disney College Program.

Why Augustana?    

When I was debating between Augustana and my other options, I realized Augustana offered more options than I could imagine. The opportunities were endless, and I could do things (like study abroad) that I did not imagine doing at 18 years old.

Leaving Augustana now, I could not be more grateful that I chose the right school for me. It gave me everything I needed and more to provide me with confidence as I enter my career.

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

I am not where I thought I would be, but most of that is due to the pandemic. When I first enrolled, I did not think that I would study abroad my sophomore year or be a student supervisor by my junior year, but I am thrilled that I did. No matter what I expected my freshman year, Augustana taught me to take advantage of new possibilities and make the most of them.

Who helped you get to where you are now?    

There is no single person that helped me because it was a collaborative process. To my family members for supporting me, my friends who cheered me on, my professors who taught and challenged me, and my bosses for guiding me, each person has made a significant contribution to where I am.

When I was a freshman, I was excitedly nervous about what college had to offer and found friends who would support me. Like everyone, I had my ups and downs for the past four years, but the highs were on top of the world.

My family supported me as I traveled abroad as a 19-year-old for three months. I could never express enough the gratitude I feel for having that opportunity.

My professors gave me an outlet to think critically, attempt new ideas and learn more about myself and the world around me. My bosses saw the leader I would become as a student supervisor by junior year, which I had not considered before. Everyone gave me the love, support and guidance I needed to be the person I am now.

Peak experience?    

The best experience I had was traveling abroad to Amsterdam my sophomore year. I spent nine incredible weeks with my classmates and three with my mom. I traveled to eight countries and loved every moment. While there were some obstacles, I cherish every memory because it allowed me to have an unforgettable experience I may never have again.

What surprised you?   

I was surprised by how at home I felt on campus. A couple of days into Welcome Week, I looked around and thought to myself, "This is where I belong." I never stopped thinking that and kept having moments the last four years about how I never wanted to be anywhere else. I am ecstatic I found the college that was meant for me.

How did you use your Augie Choice?   

I used my Augie Choice to study abroad. My sophomore year was the last year we had trimesters, and I took my opportunity to study abroad for three months. Especially with the pandemic, I am grateful I studied abroad my second year because I would not have had the chance to otherwise.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the people the most. It was easy to walk around and find someone I knew on campus. While social media will allow us to stay connected, it is more special to find someone at the Brew or passing by and stop to catch up.

Especially as each of us goes our separate way, I could not be more thankful that I had most of my college experience in-person. I gained friendships and connections that will make it hard to say goodbye to Augustana.

Advice for the Class of 2025?  

Take advantage of the opportunities Augustana has. Even if someone says that it will be difficult, power through and show them that you won't let anything hold you back. There will always be setbacks, but those are life experiences that help you grow and be stronger.

"Jessica is a cheerful and enthusiastic student — but also serious, engaged and hard-working. She's come a long way since beginning Ancient Greek! She effectively tries to bring together her different areas of interest and is the very model of the ideal of achieving mature understanding in her focus area without losing the joy of discovery and exploring fields unknown. She is always a pleasure to have around for class discussions."

– Dr. Mischa Hooker, continuing lecturer, Classics