Dig Baton Rouge

Looking back: Graduating seniors reflect on their experiences at LSU

It’s that time of the year—graduation season is in full swing and next week many LSU students will be saying goodbye to the place they’ve made their second home.  For many, it seems like just yesterday when they were walking into their first college courses.  From learning how to navigate campus to understanding how to balance school and social life, many students have gained experiences and memories that will last them a lifetime.

DIG caught up with some of these seniors to talk about their experiences at LSU and some of the reasons why they chose to become a tiger.

Jessica St. Julien, a mechanical engineering major, explains that one of the biggest reasons she chose LSU is because she was ready for new adventures with new people.

“I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. I went to a small private elementary/middle school, where most of my classmates went to the ‘sister school’ high school after middle school,”

she says. “So basically I had been with the same people for 14 years of my life.  It was just time for a change.”

St. Julien says that choosing LSU was also a plus because most of her family is from New Orleans.

“I knew I would always feel welcomed in Louisiana,” she says.

Nutrition and food science major Allison Taylor, who is an out-of-state student from Virginia, explains that it was the unique school spirit that caught her attention and aided her in choosing LSU.

“When I first visited the campus, I noticed that everyone was wearing something that represented LSU, and that was unique from the various other schools I visited,” she says.

Taylor says school spirit was very important to her because it showed that the students, faculty and community were all proud to be a part of something great.

“It shows the level of support and pride people have for this college.  That’s something that not a lot of universities have.  I think it is what makes LSU so distinguished, and that’s exactly what makes us such great fans of our sports,” she says.

Marketing major Matthew Redmann says LSU was an obvious choice for him.  Redmann, who is from the New Orleans area, explains that he always knew he would one day join the community of Tigers.

“I’m from Louisiana, and LSU was the only school I ever wanted to go to.  I couldn’t have imagine going to any other school,” he says.

Taylor says she is thankful to have created new friends and become a part of Louisiana’s culture.

“Some of my favorite memories at LSU are football games obviously, fraternity parties/formals and that moment when I realized I was becoming a southerner and created a life in Louisiana that I am very grateful for.”

St. Julien says some of her favorite memories dates back to her first year at LSU.

“One of my favorite memories at LSU had to be all of freshman year. Because I was an out of state student, I basically had to start over when I came to LSU. I had to make all new friends, learn new people; freshman year was just an adventure.”  She continues, “I’d have to say my most favorite memory was this year, my senior year. Fall 2015 I started my Capstone design project. My team and I had to design an autonomous painter for a quadriplegic.”

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St. Julien says that although the project has been very challenging, she feels that it has pushed her to work harder and learn more.

While exciting memories have been made throughout the course of these students college career at LSU, they all agree that there have definitely been major challenges as well.

“Being accepted by my class was one of my biggest challenges,” says St. Julien. “Mechanical Engineering out of all the engineering disciplines at LSU is the most male dominated discipline. So being a female already put me at a disadvantage. Not mention, in my graduating mechanical engineering class, I am the only African-American woman.”

She says she felt the need to prove herself not only to her classmates but also to herself.

“It took a while to gain that confidence that I was just as good, probably better than the people in my class [laughs].”

Taylor says her three biggest challenges were “balancing time management, social life, and money.”

“College is a time where you are expected to mature and become more responsible even if you aren’t necessarily ready to do so.  A lot of challenges I faced were simply me becoming a responsible adult.”

LSU alumna and owner of The Royal Treatment, LLC Amanda Floyd says looking back, LSU has changed her life in many ways and shares some of her tips for students transitioning into the “real world.”

Floyd who graduated in December 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in general studies and a minor in business, sociology, communication studies and religious studies says LSU was a key ingredient to her success in the business world.

“[LSU] had just started the student incubator program and I was one of the first ones to apply for that program/interview with the program, and I got in.  They really helped me throughout my college experience, as well as they still help me today.  They are a really good resource.”

Floyd, like many students, says her major changed in college.

“I originally began LSU wanting to go into oceanography but I just fell in love with what I was doing and decided to build on that,” she says.

Floyd says one of the things she appreciates most about LSU is the diversity of topics she was able to learn about while a student.

“LSU helped to guide me to what I really wanted to do and how to really make it unique.  Because if you get out of the business world a little bit—that’s where the communication studies, sociology, and everything kind of falls into play.  You really realize what people need and how they think, that way you can offer them better service,” Floyd says.

Floyd says that during her college career she dealt with challenges like any students but offers some advice on getting the most out of your college experience.

“This is a time for discovering…maybe some things you didn’t know about yourself.  I would say take some classes that are kind of out of your comfort zone.  I actually took a Women In Buddhism class, which was pretty awesome.  That was completely out of my comfort zone.  Try new things.  See what LSU really has to offer.”

Taylor agrees, offering similar advice to the incoming freshman class of 2016 saying, “Use your resources: sorority and fraternity members, old school work and advice, ask professors questions during office hours and view old tests.  It got me bumped up on borderline grades in many classes, and changing your major and not knowing what you want to do yet is OK!”

“Time management is my advice to any students coming to LSU.  Make sure you don’t party so much to where it affects your school work,” Redmann says.

“My advice for freshman in general is the same advice my mother gave me my freshman year: ‘College is a challenge, and everything is new and different and you’re going to want to do it all and try everything, and you should with some restraint…when you’re unsure about yourself or how you feel about a situation, sit back and observe,’” St. Julien says.

And when it comes to advice for students who will soon be apart of the alumni of LSU themselves, Floyd says job experience is key.

“If you haven’t really figured out what you want to do, then job experience is a good place to start.  In my opinion job experience is right up there with your degree.  And if do know what you’re doing then you should really try networking.  There are great networking groups like Business Networking International and so many other great social groups around Baton Rouge.  It would be very beneficial no matter what you’re going into, just joining some type of club and getting to know people.”

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