The Graduate Experience

Coming to a graduate program as a first-generation college student can be exciting, but also overwhelming. I did not understand what to fully expect out of a graduate program. After nearly finishing my first year as a graduate student, I was able to honor my past experiences and grow in new ones so far. I was able to bring a unique lens to the spaces that I inhabit.

I can finally digest and tell myself that one's experience is their own experience and there should not be a comparison to who's experience is lived "better". I was able to learn through my cohort (including Dr. T) that everyone's experiences shed a different light that leads us to learn from one another.

My cohort has given me a sense of belonging as when I first started, I felt as if it was a competition with one another. Dr.Tillapaugh created an open and safe space as one of my first professors within Cal Lutheran as a first-year graduate student. Dr. Tillapaugh created a space via Zoom to learn from another and always strived to find ways to help with our student success within our cohort. Through this space, I was able to dig deeper into finding out more about who I am and my purpose when servicing students.  I was able to learn that everything is a process and not everything will click for us at that very instant moment. It's become a continuous process not only through my cohort but as well throughout the Cal Lutheran community.

My cohort has allowed me to empty my cup to make room for growth and professional development. Learning all of my cohort's purposes to continue this path has helped me dig more into my own about how it derives from the experiences we have as students and the mentors we've encountered throughout this journey. My cohort & Dr. T have helped me feel more confident in my story, identity, and purpose. 

Anna Ching ‘23