As the days get shorter and our hot days turn into cooler nights, students around the country are settling in to the new school year. Here, at Eastern New Mexico University, is no different. For many of us this won't be our last rodeo. For some it will be. For some others, it will be our last. Those of you who can see the finish line and life after college, do you ever think back to your first college experiences? Remember what it was like to be out on your own and out of your parent's house? Having class and knowing you don't have to go but you go anyways? Good times, am I right? And you, freshman! Have wondered yet what it is going to feel like when you can see your finish line? Have you thought about all the work you're going to put in over the next four years? The long nights studying, the stressful deadlines you'll have to meet, and the unbalanced diet of junk you'll be consuming. Have you thought about it?
Camille Bowens and Gevyn Stockard are experiencing both sides of the spectrum. Bowens who is a freshman out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is just starting her college experience at ENMU. Gevyn Stockard is a senior from Portales, New Mexico and is looking to graduate this May with a degree in both Communications and English. I had the privilege to sit down with both students and ask them about their first experience of the school year. How are two students on the opposite end of the college spectrum viewing their first month back in school?
For first year student, Camille Bowens, her experience has been the typical freshman start. Like so many freshmen out there, Bowens is living on her own for the first time in her life. As exciting as it's been living on her own, Bowens admits to constantly being homesick. In fact, Bowens says she video chats with her family nearly every day, including her twin brother who chose to stay in Albuquerque. Bowens who describes herself as an introvert, suffering from anxiety, says that one of her biggest struggles was having a roommate for the first time. “I moved out of my dorm from the anxiety of having a roommate," Bowens says, "it's easier to study now.” When asked what the biggest change academically was from high school to college, Bowens recalls, "It's not like high school, I actually have to study. It's more self-motivated learning, if I'm going to pay to be here I'm not going to fail.”
As for the perks to being in college, Camille says, “I love the [sic] little community that this college has going on, I love that if I need help I can get it. Whether it's from a student, administrator, or professor. It's not weird to talk to people, I have to remember that.”
“You don’t take it as seriously as you once did, but then you realize the kind of work load you've got, then that's when you get to work," says Gevyn Stockard, as he describes the first month of his senior year. “And you should know better by now, but you don’t.” When discussing the challenges and struggles he has experienced while in college, he explains how he overcame the adversity: “You learn to decide if you want to give in to your struggles or just push through it.”
Eastern New Mexico University has seen many changes in the last decade. One of those changes is the new football stadium which opened up last fall. “The football stadium changed the whole aspect of the [college] experience," says Stockard. Those of us who have been at ENMU for more than two years know what Stockard is talking about. Today, students and the community can participate in tailgating events in a way that this university has never seen before. For Gevyn, the football stadium has been an opportunity to get out and socialize with other greyhounds, something that he hasn't done since he was a freshman. “I was all over the place as a freshman. I was in clubs, attended events, and participated in activities. As a senior I'm just way too busy, or know better,” says Stockard.
In four years a lot can change. After four years of college, our lives change forever. So, after you walk across that stage and receive that golden ticket, what have you learned, what changed? “Your total mentality changes. By the time you’re a senior you've figured out what works and what doesn't work. Not just in class but in life,” says Stockard.
College is an opportunity. It's four years’ worth of opportunity. Each one of us has a completely different and unique college experience than others. “I think the greatest thing I've gotten out of college is that there are so many different people and different ways of thinking. It [college] makes you think outside of the box,” says Stockard.