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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

one degree closer to my dreams!

it's been a long 4.5 years, but my time at pace has finally come to an end.

This past Thursday, I packed up my tiny dorm on Beekman Street and signed out of a Pace University residence hall for the last time.  My degree is finally complete!

My amazing and fierce roommate Emily over at Currently Emily took a few photos for me, and I can't believe how fun they turned out.  Thank you so much, Emily!

After 22 years of my life, I am no longer a student.  I personally hated high school, but I loved college.  The verdict is still out on whether I liked or disliked Pace, but I have honestly enjoyed every moment of being a College Student.  I loved taking courses that were relevant to what I enjoy, I loved being an active member of my sorority, and I loved the feeling of getting a grade back on a project or a test you knew you crushed.  I am going to sorely miss grabbing Starbucks at the caf before heading to Lecture Hall North for an evening class with one of my favorite professors.  I am especially going to miss heading to Lecture Hall North for chapter with my sisters every Monday, and becoming an Alumna of Sigma Delta Tau is an extremely difficult emotional process.  I was as involved as I could possibly be all the way until I had to leave, so going from Vice President to inactive is quite a leap.

When I got accepted to Pace back in 2014, I was accepted for Childhood Education.  I really wanted to be a teacher, but I soon realized that the Childhood Education program wasn't for me.  My classes felt useless, like they weren't teaching me anything.  They especially weren't teaching me how to teach children, so when I did fieldwork in tutoring centers, I felt useless.  I had no idea what I was doing and I didn't feel like I was helpful in the classroom.  Going to fieldwork soon became my least favorite chore, and that's when I knew that this degree wasn't for me.  My first college semester was exciting otherwise-- I explored my neighborhood, met my best friend, and enjoyed life in the city.  I got to watch a lot of theatre: Hamilton with the full OBC, Deaf West Spring Awakening twice, The Color Purple, Avenue Q, Something Rotten!, The Lion King, and The King and I were just a few of the shows I saw that semester.

During the Spring 2016 semester, I decided I would apply for the Disney College Program.  I waited for most of the semester for my acceptance email, which I finally got about three hours before my final meeting with my academic advisor for the semester.  Talk about perfect timing!  With the School of Education and Pace's permission, I submitted my Leave of Absence forms for Fall 2016 and accepted my offer in Attractions.

In many ways, getting away from Pace to chase my dreams, work full-time, and reevaluate my priorities in somewhat of a "gap" semester was one of the best things I ever did.  My freshman year left me extremely confused with where the direction of my life was headed, so the break from academics was necessary while I worked, kept myself productive, and lived independently in a place that brought so much positivity and joy to me.  I realized that Childhood Education wasn't for me... but Communications sounded really interesting, and it sounded like something I could be really great at!  I changed my major, I developed a work ethic I'm still really proud of today, and I became a customer-service oriented worker who can easily navigate challenging guest situations.  A lot of good things came out of my Fall 2016 Disney College Program and I will always be grateful for that semester I spent with Disney Programs & Internships.

When I returned to Pace, I was happier and more inspired than I was when I left.  I was ready to work hard in my classes and ready to get involved on campus.  I decided that my first step was to sign up for sorority recruitment.  From the moment I stepped into the recruitment room with Sigma Delta Tau, I knew I was home.  With every girl I spoke to, I saw just how empowering and genuine the sisterhood was in this chapter.  Ripping open my bid card at the end of that week was such a defining moment in my college career and in my life.  Delta Theta has loved me unconditionally from the day I ran home to them, and I have loved them unconditionally in return.  Without my chapter, I probably would have transferred out of Pace.  I have no doubt that without Sigma Delta Tau, I wouldn't be the confident, empowered leader that I see in myself today.

Other than my pseudo-position as President of my high school's Italian Club, I had never held a leadership position until I joined SDT.  I held various positions on the General Board for two years, but I really wanted to be on the Executive Board.  I applied for E-Board both times I was eligible, and failed to be slated either time.  But when our leadership shifted over the summer, it left an opening in the office of Vice President that needed to be filled for this last semester.  Vice President was never a job I saw myself doing, but I knew I had to run.  I had worked too hard over the course of the past two years to not give E-Board one last chance.

I have had no greater honor in my entire life than being Vice President of Sigma Delta Tau, if even only for a semester.  I had the honor of second-in-commanding one of the most amazing women I have ever met and overseeing a General Board full of incredible, creative women who brought tons of ideas to the table whenever I met with them.  I stretched my limits as a leader and finally got to serve Delta Theta in one of the highest offices in our chapter.  It was absolutely surreal.

Every moment with my sorority has been a dream, from finding out who my big was to getting my perfect little and g-little.  Everything else about my time at Pace has been a footnote to my involvement in SDT.

When I wasn't with my sisters, I was hanging out with my best friend and roommate, Austin.  I met Austin during my freshman year and we were inseparable until he graduated back in May.  We did everything together.  We went to a live taping of Saturday Night Live and saw countless Broadway shows, explored the city and went to McDonalds at ridiculous hours of the evening.  Thanks to him, I was able to make it all the way to the West Coast when he allowed me to visit his beautiful home in Arizona.  I can't thank Pace enough for bringing him into my life.  I couldn't have survived these past 4.5 years without him.

I tried to spend my time this past semester wisely.  I studied hard, I took a few extra shifts at my on-campus job.  I went to a Jimmy Fallon taping with my fabulous roomie Emily, where Alanis Morissette gave everyone in the audience free tickets to her Broadway show, Jagged Little Pill.  We saw the show together last week, and I really enjoyed it.  But I don't enjoy theatre the way I did when I was a freshman anymore.  We walked by the stage door without stopping to get an autograph from Derek Klena and I couldn't help but feel sad as I thought about how different I am today.  Sometimes I miss how positive and kind I was when I was 18.  But freshman year Kaitlyn had a lot of learning and growing to do.  She didn't know what she was going to school for, she couldn't be the Vice President of a sorority, and she definitely couldn't get the job I have lined up for me this Spring.

As I reflect on my college years, I'm really sad to wrap up this chapter of my life.  I have grown and gained so much since I started college, and I've had so much fun living in Manhattan.  I'm also really scared because I don't know a life where I don't wake up and go to class.  But I'm trying not to think about what I'm leaving behind; I'm trying to focus on what the future has in store for me.  A few days ago, I filled out my New Hire Paperwork for the Program and started packing my suitcase.  Soon, I'm going to have to finish paying off my hotel room for the night before the Program.  I'm about two weeks away from registering for Program courses and maybe three weeks away from finding out where I'll be working and living during this next chapter of my life.

Today, however, I'm trying to focus on just today.  It's Christmas Eve and I can't wait to spend the evening with my family as we celebrate the holidays.  Driving around town to see the Christmas lights, baking pies, and watching every single Christmas movie on Disney+ have just been some of the tender moments I've shared with my family since I came home from Pace and tonight is my favorite holiday tradition, a Christmas Eve party at our house.  I can't wait to spend today celebrating all that matters with the people who matter the most to me, and I hope your holidays are equally warm and bright this year.


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