First-year students go into their college career uncertain of what their future will look like.As time passes, they find professions that support their passions in life.
Emma Lavin, first-year business major, adjusting to life as a full-time college student has been an adventure.
“I really like it,” Lavin said. “It’s a good community and there’s a lot of good people here. The teachers are really helpful and the facilities are nice. It’s a good place.”
Sarah Wittmuss, professional advisor helps new USD students make the transition to college easier by providing guidance and resources.
Wittmuss has worked with Lavin this semester but said she knew her before she even came to school at USD.
“I went to college with Emma’s parents and have known her whole life, yet it’s been a treat to get to know her in a professional capacity this year,” Wittmuss said. “She’s amazing.”
Outside of class, Lavin is involved in Equip campus ministries and has looked into joining a few other student organizations. But being a student at USD is not her only priority.
“In my free time, I like to ride horses,” Lavin said. “I’m a dressage rider, so I go to the barn pretty much every day and ride. I rode for quite a few years, just for fun. I decided that I really wanted to get serious about it and get my own horse about that.”
Lavin participates in competitions, beginning in early May. Before coming to USD, she spent the summer in Colorado, riding her horse and preparing for her first year of college.
Since beginning her first semester at USD, Lavin has been going back and forth between school and Colorado, where her horse is currently. Lavin said she has gotten used to this change.
“The balancing is hard because I always make the barn a priority,” Lavin said. “If that means I have to stay up later or get up earlier, it’s totally worth it so I can have time for that. It’s a lot of fun and I really love it.”
Looking forward, Lavin plans on finishing her education at USD and possibly going to graduate school. Although Lavin said she is unsure exactly what she’ll be doing, she knows riding horses will still be the main part of her life.
“My plan is to probably go to graduate school if I keep a business major,” Lavin said. “I want to move to Colorado, get a job, and ride a lot. I want to have a job that allows me to balance work and horses. I’m not sure what I really like right now but I just want to keep getting involved in stuff and moving forward.”
Wittmuss said she is thrilled to work with this new class of freshmen and is excited to see what their futures look like.
“We encourage students to think broadly about what their degree can do for them, so many of the jobs they will hold in five or ten years from now truly do not yet exist,” Wittmuss said. “Moving to college can be both an exciting and stressful time but we are committed to helping as much as possible. It’s an exciting development to know we are bringing in more bright, excited students ready to take on the world.”
Sawyer Stevens decided to start his college journey at USD nearly six years ago after he attended a health careers camp that they college hosts. The camp is for high schoolers and shows them what the university has to offer in terms of healthcare field opportunities in the community.
Stevens said no other university made the impression on him the way USD had during his visit.
“I just had a good feel for the campus, I really liked the location and the people,” Stevens said. “I toured other schools and I didn’t get that same feeling.”
Figuring out what to major in was not a difficult choice for Stevens, as he already knew he wanted to head to medical school after his undergraduate years. He entered the medical biology program to continue his childhood dream to become a doctor.
Stevens said he wanted to become a doctor because of his experiences as a child injured in a vehicular collision. He had over twenty surgeries and spent years of his life in therapy and in and outpatient care.
Those experiences changed his life and influenced him to go into the medical field.
“The positive experiences I had with doctors and the motivation they’re able to give you, and just kind of interact with you on a personal level was something that I always found really interesting,” Stevens said. “As I kind of transitioned into what I wanted to do with my life I thought about how I could give back and in a similar way. Medicine just seemed to fit.”
Wittmuss was also an adviser to Stevens who helped him throughout his undergraduate years. In an email interview with The Volante, Wittmuss said she enjoyed watching him develop into the student he is now.
“I’ve had the privilege of seeing Sawyer grow from being a curious first-year student interested in nearly every academic area and campus activity to a senior with a clear plan and excellent set of experiences to help him reach his post-graduate goals,” Witmuss said.
Although busy with preparing for medical school Stevens has found time to also be involved in many organizations. He’s held positions in Phi Kappa Alpha (Pike), Coyote Crazies, Dakotathon, Biology Club and Special Olympics Club.
Stevens is the president of Coyote Crazies, an organization that encourages students to be involved at USD athletic events.
“It’s been a real privilege to be… one of the voices for the student body about what they want out of USD athletics,” Stevens said.
For PIKE he was able to work within the chapter to contribute to the Sanford Health Foundation for the Cure Kids’ Cancer and Ava’s House.
By being involved in many organizations Stevens was able to broaden his horizons and that is a prominent fixture in his life.
“I’ve definitely experienced a lot of things that would never had been part of my life before, and they’re a huge part of my life now,” Stevens said.
Although Stevens has many goals and plans for his future, he doesn’t have a rigid schedule of how he wants to accomplish them.
“I think that’s really important no matter how focused you are on your goals to always leave that room for variability because variety is the spice of life,” Stevens said.
Stevens contributes the ability to balance his studies, organizations and applying for medical school to hard work. He also said that focusing on your own work and not worrying about other people.
When he finishes his undergrad in the spring, Stevens said something he’ll miss about the past four years at USD is the people on campus.
“You could point in any given direction and somebody at the end of your finger is somebody you’ve known and know by name and that’s crazy,” Stevens said. “That’s something I’ll definitely miss.”