Life after Augustana. Seniors reflect on how Augustana has helped prepare them for the future


Linh Tran

Mamata Marmé, Assistant Professor of Business Administration and the last lecturer, delivers her speech on staying present and grateful at the Last Lecture on May 4, 2023, despite earlier nervousness.

Brock Clark

On May 4, Augustana’s graduating class of 2023 gathered in Centennial Hall for the Last Lecture to celebrate their accomplishments in the past four years as well as to toast to the future. As many students are experiencing a mix of emotions in their last few weeks at Augustana, a common feeling among most seniors was a feeling of gratitude for what the college has done to help prepare them for the next chapter of their lives. 

Senior Gianna DeLeo, a secondary english education major, said that it is a bittersweet feeling leaving Augustana but because of the guidance she received from the education department and CORE office she feels more prepared than ever. 

“It’s hard to say goodbye to a life you’ve lived for the past four years of your life, but I know I’m ready for the next chapter,” DeLeo said.

The Augustana major departments as well as the careers, opportunities, research and experiences center (CORE) help to make sure all students stay on track for best success outcomes and allow students to receive special opportunities within their fields of interest.   

The education department starts day one with explanations of what is expected throughout college and beyond,” DeLeo said. “We were able to get our resumes and cover letters checked by faculty, schedule mock interviews and learn all about licensure before spring of senior year even began.” 

When speaking about the CORE office, DeLeo said they helped her to not only understand what will be needed to graduate and apply for jobs but also how to land those jobs. 

“The things that the CORE office and career coaches are able to help students do is truly amazing,” DeLeo said. 

Laura Kestner Ricketts, the executive director of career and professional development, has made it her mission to help students succeed post grad in any way possible. Ricketts said that the CORE office not only helps with career planning but also life planning. The goal is to take incoming students in and help form them into the person they want to be. 

“CORE is designed to help students throughout their entire college career starting from the minute they step foot on campus,” Ricketts said. 

The career development process can be easily broken down into three main parts, the beginning, middle and end; and all of those pieces combined are what makes Augustana produce such well rounded students that turn into some of the most well prepared professionals. 

“At the beginning we try to help new students figure out who they are, what they want to be and what their direction in life is,” Ricketts said. “The middle and end consists of experiential learning opportunities and next step decision making that career coaches and CORE staff strive to make easier for you. We are your guides, we’re your shepherds, we’re your champions.” 

Senior Kate Martino, a data analytics and business management major, attested to that same sentiment.

“The employees and student workers at CORE go above and beyond to help students achieve their career goals and aspirations,” Martino said. “Augustana has given me the confidence to pursue my dream of working in the tech industry post-grad, and I will be forever thankful for the support I have gotten from faculty and staff here at Augie.”

DeLeo said she is not just excited to get started with her career, but she’s also excited to watch her friends and peers take on the world.

I can’t wait to get started with my teaching career and see where I go, but I am looking forward to the success that all of my friends will soon endure,” DeLeo said. “I am so excited to watch everyone pave their individual ways and make their marks on the world.” 

As we come now two weeks from the day these seniors will walk across the stage and off of Augustana’s campus for the last time, many are excited to jump into their next adventure. 

In the coming year Deleo will be starting her career teaching 6th grade english/language arts back in her hometown at Hampshire Middle School as well as getting her licensure as a literary coach. Martino will be moving to Washington DC, to work as a business analyst at Amazon Web Services HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, where she had the opportunity to intern the summer prior.