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The build-up to commencement


Editor’s Note: Shane Hull is a sophomore at Missouri State University-West Plains who began his collegiate career as a traditional student — one who enrolls in college immediately following high school. These students have their own sets of challenges, from picking the college they want to attend to actually attending classes. In this column, Shane concludes his story as a traditional college student by sharing the steps he’s taking to prepare for commencement. Shane works part time in the MSU-WP university communications office.

Through my journey at Missouri State University-West Plains, I have made many realizations about who I am and who I want to be in the future. Coming into college, I planned on becoming a preschool teacher, but after taking a few courses and getting the in-person experience, I decided that education was not the path I wanted to pursue. I am now seeking a degree in communications studies, and I plan on working in human resources, public relations or social media management. This journey has been very challenging, but also very rewarding!

In the last two semesters of my time at MSU-WP, I have worked carefully with my adviser, Alex Pinnon, to make sure that I am where I need to be to graduate in year. We sat down together and looked at the dual credit courses I took in high school and the credits I have earned through courses here and decided what I still needed and what electives I could take to meet the credit hour requirements of my scholarships.

I never really saw myself as someone who would enjoy philosophy courses or classes where we discussed ethics and morals, but Pinnon, who teaches the religion and philosophy courses at MSU-WP, encouraged me to give it a chance and told me that he believed I could do it. To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying his courses! They have allowed me to think in a different way than I ever have before, and I’ve been actively using the methods we have discussed to make vital decisions for my future.

Preparing for my graduation from MSU-WP with my associate’s degree has been very stressful, but my professors, staff, faculty, and my coaches have supported me through everything I needed. For example, I had no clue what classes I needed to be taking in my last semester. I had completed some dual-credit courses in high school, leaving some gaps in my required credits. But with one visit to my adviser, I was shown what classes could be helpful to me with my future plans, and I was set on the path to success!

There also have been moments where I have felt like giving up. Balancing work, school and personal matters can be very challenging. However, with my adviser, professors and the Counseling Center at MSU-WP, I have so many outlets to get the help I need in this stage of my life! My adviser assists me in taking care of the classes I need to be in, my professors are always willing to help me make up assignments that I did not do well on, and Lauren Willis and Lora Davis have done such an amazing job at creating a safe space for students in the Counseling Center! Those two women always brighten my day when I see then anywhere on campus, and I can’t recommend their services more!

The opportunities I have had at MSU-WP have allowed me to choose what I want to do after graduation. High school graduation was one of the most anxiety-ridden times of my life, but I can say that I am 100 times more confident about my graduation from MSU-WP. I feel prepared for my future, and I have confidence that with the education I have received here, I will find a way to solve any problem that is thrown my way!

Shane is on track to graduate on May 11 with an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree. He plans to transfer to Missouri State University in Springfield to seek a bachelor’s degree in communications studies.