A New Chapter: A senior graduating in December reflects on Eastern experience and looks ahead to the future.

For some students, their undergraduate education experience won’t be ending in May like the majority of seniors’ will.  Instead, they will be graduating and moving on in December.  One of these seniors is Christian Mendoza-Laude, a General Music major with a concentration in Music Composition.

Mendoza-Laude came to Eastern at the suggestion of one of his mentors back home. “[My mentor] had many other people that he’s known come to this school, and he really admired the Christian background and ethic of the community on campus and the faculty and staff,” Mendoza-Laude said.  “Originally, I wasn’t even necessarily planning to go to college, but he also really wanted me to go, and at his recommendation, I applied to the school, came and auditioned, and was graciously accepted.”

Throughout his time at Eastern, Mendoza-Laude began to figure out what his passions are with the help of his mentor and the faculty he got to know through his classes. 

“I originally came in as a Music Performance major playing the tuba, but I quickly realized that that wasn’t the route I wanted to go down.  My mentor has his Doctorate in Music Composition, go figure, so maybe a year or a year and a half into my time at Eastern I realized that performance is nice, but it’s not really what I find myself enjoying to do with my free time, and with my free time, I like to compose,” Mendoza-Laude said.

The overall academic atmosphere and experience was made better by faculty members and friends on campus, as they encouraged Mendoza-Laude not only academically, but spiritually. 

“All of them have had their own Christian walk that differs from mine and differs from anyone else’s, which is a good experience to have just knowing that there are people that are similar to you and have similar tastes to you in an intellectual setting, but still have something to tie them and tie you all together outside of those things,” Mendoza-Laude said.

In regards to graduating in December as opposed to May, Mendoza-Laude felt that it probably isn’t all that different emotionally and mentally in juggling all of the work and projects that come with your last semester of undergraduate education.  The difference lies in the amount of time you have to wait to walk at Commencement. 

“With Commencement being only once a year as opposed to twice a year, I will have to wait to walk, which is a bummer to say the least, but just knowing that once it’s done – your degree is done – knowing that that will be out of the way, then you can start focusing on either what comes next or just waiting until Commencement comes around.  That is kind of the moment where you get to show your friends and family that want to come out and see you that these are my steps forward. It’s been four plus years, and I’m at the end of the road.  Once I come off this stage, undergrad is officially done,” Mendoza-Laude said.

Mendoza-Laude’s plans after graduation include finding a job and a place to live around the area, and potentially applying for Masters programs for next fall. 

“My plan at the moment is to figure out, more or less … how I’m going to navigate what comes immediately following graduation until potentially going into a Master’s program in the fall of next year … Just making sure that I’m able to sustain myself in the meantime before figuring out what comes next in my career path,” Mendoza-Laude said.  He also mentioned the possibility of putting off going into a graduate program if he finds a job that he’s passionate about in a place where he’s comfortable, since adaptability is key.

Though Mendoza-Laude is excited to graduate, he will miss the beautiful scenery on campus, especially in the fall and winter.  More than anything, however, he’s going to miss the people that he’s met during his time here.

“I will definitely miss the faculty that I’ve become close with and the friends I have on campus that aren’t graduating, but even if they were, we’re all going to go our separate ways,” Mendoza-Laude said.

For all of the seniors graduating this semester, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.  Whether you’re going straight into the workforce or seeking further education, your friends and the faculty and staff will be cheering you on as you make your way into the world.

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