I recently had the pleasure of recording for the Longwood Alumni podcast. I was asked many questions about my time at Longwood, my travels, and my career. After I left, there was one question in particular that I couldn't stop thinking about because in the moment I don't think my answer was sufficient enough.


"How did Longwood prepare you for life outside of Farmville?"


It's a simple enough question. I even had time to prepare my answer before the interview. But, for some reason I couldn't quite find the words to properly explain how Longwood prepared me for life outside Farmville.

I've always been better at processing my thoughts with time and expressing them in the written form rather than verbally. Of course, it's not a simple answer but I'm going to attempt it again here.


My time at Longwood can be described as four years squeezed between the tears I had when I was left alone in my freshman dorm room and the tears I had when I stepped on the stage at my commencement ceremony. When I started, I was only 17 years old. I was nowhere near ready for what that year had in store for me. I didn't know it at the time, but I didn't even know myself. Better yet, I hadn't yet had the chance to learn who I wanted to be.


Even though I wasn't ready, I did it anyway. I went to class. I socialized on the hallway. I joined clubs. Four short years later, I completed a degree. I picked up a minor. I had professors I trusted. I had great roommates. I had a lengthy resume. I completed a research project.


Because of all that, I had the most important thing: friends. It may sound silly but I made a great group of friends with my peers as well as some faculty and staff. Friends that I laughed with, cried with, worked with, argued with, and supported.


So, how did Longwood prepare me for life outside Farmville? It some ways it didn't. There are parts of those four years that seem like a dream now. But, here's how it did: I learned to work with people, to think for myself, to speak up when I needed to, and to shut up when I needed to. I made mistakes and I learned from them. I matured from the shy, insecure freshman with no friends to an outgoing, successful graduating senior.


In the year since graduating, I made a point to meet more people, have deeper conversations, listen to my elders, and nurture important friendships. In a nutshell, Longwood prepared me to get the most out of my personal and professional relationships. I learned that I can't get anywhere on my own and, more importantly, that I don't want to. Longwood gave me a support system that I will have for the rest of my life.


Have a story to share?

We're specifically looking for stories that feature a sequence of events occurring around the years immediately following graduation.

If you have a story to tell or you know someone who does, please email a short pitch to us at alumni@longwood.edu - We want to bring your story to life on the Day After Graduation podcast

Meet other recent graduates in your area!

Psst Class of 2017 - you get to hang for free.

Our Welcome to the City series is back for year two! Join us at locations all over the state as we welcome the Class of 2017 to the Longwood Alumni family.

The night will include craft brews, great food, Longwood gear, and a chance to network with fellow Lancers - choose your city below! 


About the Author

Erin Hessler '15

Erin Hessler graduated from Longwood in 2015 with a degree in Communication Studies. As a student, she was involved with sport clubs, ambassadors, and mortar board amongst other things. Since graduating, Erin took time to travel in Europe and returned to her hometown in Northern Virginia where she currently works as an Event & Marketing Coordinator for a small meeting planning company. - See more at: http://www.longwood.edu/alumni/articles/2016/what-no-one-tells-you-after-graduation/#sthash.1flEpgxt.dpuf

Leave a Comment