by Diane Hawkinson

Headshot of Diane

Diane Hawkinson graduated with a psychology major in 2017 (photo courtesy of Diane Hawkinson)

For many students, Northwestern is their first home away from home. Even if you dislike dorm-style living or are a commuter, somehow UNW’s campus becomes a part of your community – a place where you belong. It’s a place to call home for as long as you let it. In my opinion, it’s important to stay involved at UNW whether or not you are currently a student.

It’s no secret that UNW strives to build a great community – we practically hear it at every event, in prayers, at chapel, in training sessions, etc. We talk a lot about it, but have you felt it? There are countless opportunities to experience community, but do you actually feel like one? What will it take for students to see Northwestern as more than just a temporary experience and care about the lasting impact on campus? What we all have in common is this institution and I believe it’s important to emotionally invest in its future, especially after graduation.

Involvement looks different after you cross the graduation stage, but it is arguably just as important. The betterment of our institution and community as a whole shouldn’t rest on just the shoulders of those enrolled. Improving the campus environment as well as making sure UNW holds true to its mission requires collective effort. Showing support for your school can look like attending sporting events, following social media pages, attending artist showcases, as well as mentoring a current student and that shouldn’t have to end once you graduate.

I recall multiple occasions to which I would hear current students questioning the sighting of a graduate on campus as if he or she had nothing better to do than hang out at the Billy or in the Stud. Now, as a graduate, I recognize the appeal to return to familiarity; receiving my diploma did not change the fact that I still care for UNW’s community. The desire to stay involved comes from wanting to see a lasting positive change for the current and future Eagles.

Recognizing that some lack a positive experience at this University, my opinion remains the same. If students have a “no longer my problem” mentality as soon as they cross the graduation stage, they are sacrificing opportunity for progressive changes to be made for those who follow after them. With that said, some may argue that graduates should “move on” and allow space for the current students to make an impact and to that I would agree, yet if we as a community are losing touch with what’s happening on campus, I fear indifference will set in. Certain policies have improved because graduates enacted change and the current students sought to carry through those efforts. Consider policy changes such as ridding of curfew or allowing dances – students before you sought improvements on campus that took collective effort in order to produce the revisions we have today.

Whether you graduated a decade ago or it’s your first semester, we all have this institution in common and although an aspect of community ends when you cross the graduation stage, I believe it is important to fight complacency toward the future of our University once a diploma is received.

My prayer for this campus is that you never stop caring and never stop seeking Christ-centered improvements. The legacy you leave impacts the students after you and I believe continual investment is the only way to enact lasting change.



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