On Calling Westminster Home

By: Olivia Shaffer

Dedicated to the people I’ve sat in class with for four years, to the people who were once strangers and are now close friends, to the class of 2016.

Westminster Hall

When we are freshman, we have what seems like an infinite amount of time at Whitworth in front of us. We sit in freshman seminar, surrounded by people we do not know, and are told by professors that the next four years as an English Major are going to be rigorous, but rewarding. And wow, were they right. Those people we did not know are now some of our closest friends. We have sat in classes with each other for four years, taught by professors who have instilled in us knowledge and wisdom that will never be forgotten – both inside and outside the classroom.

What I have noticed about the English Department is that we seem to be more cohesive than other departments on campus. We are unified by our small and creaky building (which, by senior year, we’ve grown to love and call home). We have study sessions where we recap the dozens of books we’ve read…in one semester. We complain about our papers and say we hate our own writing, but we all secretly love the rigor that goes into reading books for a living. By senior year, we have learned the best ways to research and we spend hours analyzing one page of a book, which produces three pages in a paper. We love our classes, although we may not admit it, and we are thankful for the professors that push us to be better and expand our ideas. If you ask any other major if they are this thankful for their academic time at Whitworth, I guarantee the response will not be as gratuitous.

So what does it mean to be a senior English major? To me it means thinking about graduation, and suddenly growing nostalgic for all of the classes I’ve taken – and all the ones we were unable to take. It means realizing that the professors – who have become mentors, coaches, and sometimes therapists – will not be just down the creaky hallway to talk to about, well, anything. It means recognizing all of the hard work I’ve put in these last four years, and not taking the last semester for granted. It is appreciating that these strangers I sat by three years ago have become family. It is accepting that the laughter, stress, and conversations that resonate in the Westminster lounge are soon going to be just a memory, a wave of nostalgia, and moments in a finished chapter of my life.

So, my fellow seniors, as we go into our last semester together remember this: we are approaching the end of something that will never be relived. As we sit in our last first week of classes, as we take our last midterms, as we read our last books for class, and as we write our final papers, make sure to embrace the little time we have left. We once sat in freshman seminar together, and we just finished sitting in Senior Portfolio. Soon, we will sit together for one last time at graduation, walk across the stage together, and take a few final pictures, then go our separate ways. But for the next four months, all 30 of us will sit in our last semester of classes together. Let’s make it count.

Olivia Shaffer (’16) is an English Literature major and History minor at Whitworth University. Aside from academics she dedicates a large part of her time to the Jubilation Dance program at the university; an extra curricular that allows her to continue to pursue her passion for dance. She has no idea what post-graduation life will look like, but hopes for the best.

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