By Danielle Silvia
During a recent job interview, the hiring manager asked me a question that I had never encountered before: “How have you changed the most over the past four years?”
I think the question surprised me because day-to-day, I rarely notice changes in myself — I am doing pretty much the same things as any other typical college senior. I’m beginning the job hunt, thinking about my education and finishing strong in my classes.
When I look back to pictures of freshman-year me, I also see nothing different. I still have the same smile, same birthmarks, same clothing style and even the same glasses. As cliche as it sounds, those moments really do feel like yesterday.
If I try hard enough, I can still remember the smells of my freshman dorm’s hallways and feel the tears I cried when I said goodbye to my family for the first time.
I’ve learned so much from my classes, enough knowledge to last a lifetime. I learned how to work well with others and become a leader from both my academics and extracurricular activities.
Yes, I have grown intellectually, but that was just like high school, right? And before that, just like middle school, and prior to that, just like elementary school. Each new walk of life presented me with challenges and opportunities that helped me become wiser.
So, as I stared at the man in the suit smiling back at me, I felt dumbstruck. Looking back on my four years, I feel like I’ve been lost, even discouraged at some moments during my time as a student, I felt exactly the same as I did when I signed the document to enroll at the College. But at the same time, I sometimes feel like my emotions take over, especially when I start to think about life after graduation. Call it a case of growing pains or plain uncertainty, this also didn’t seem to fit the answer to the question.
Suddenly, one word came to mind –– resilience. This is the word that I feel defines my college experience and my transformation as a student. I have learned something over these past four years that no textbook could ever teach me –– I learned how to be strong and how to keep moving forward.
Before coming to college, I was always a person who shied away from challenges, but I have learned to react to drawbacks with persistence, until I can achieve my goal. Rather than breaking down and not knowing where to turn, I have learned to stay strong and accomplish my goals to the best of my ability. I no longer feel anxious about challenges –– I feel ready to face them.
Living away from home, overcoming heartbreak and putting myself outside of my comfort zone are just a few of the things that I have learned that have changed my outlook on life. It is in these moments of hardship that I have learned about myself.
Regardless of what I choose to do, I hope to live a life that solves problems and helps people.
Overall, I have learned to simply enjoy each moment and face my challenges head on, without backing down. As an adult now, I can attest that this is by far the most valuable lesson I have learned, that has changed my life over these last four years.