As the end of the school year quickly approaches, many AU students are hyper-focused on graduation and their subsequent plans. Even those who aren’t graduating this year still feel the immense pressure to figure out where they will go and what they will do after leaving AU.
The Student Alumni Association is presenting a series of lectures entitled “SWAGG (Skills We All Gotta Get) After AU” that will happen from 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in Hartung 101 for the next three Thursdays. The purpose of SWAGG is to present practical information on issues that students will face immediately upon stepping into the “real world.” Everyone is encouraged to attend, no matter how much time they have left at AU.
Casey Brown, marketing and social media coordinator of alumni relations, explained that “the Student Alumni Association allows students to interact with AU alumni, as well as to build affinity for the university. SAA provides opportunities for students to network with alumni before they graduate and we also host campus events. SAA is the means to help students feel connected to their alma mater.”
Each SWAGG session topic was chosen with purpose by members of the Student Alumni Association, and Brown believes that they are all beneficial.
On Jan. 28, SWAGG will cover information on taxes, budgeting and investments with Erin Wagoner, professor of accounting. On Feb. 4, Doug Powers, a partner at Beckerman Lawson, and Amy Turner, a State Farm insurance agent, will discuss the logistics and importance of health, renter’s and auto insurance. Finally, on Feb. 11, President Pistole will speak on “How to Stay True to Your Faith and Character in the Work Force.”
Colin Short, director of alumni relations, feels that “it’s important for our graduates to leave here with these lessons from outside of the classroom. They’re very important topics that are sometimes overlooked in the context of school.”
The first SWAGG session last Thursday focused on the issues of physical and mental health. Counselor and AU grad Kelly Shores spoke about the importance of maintaining realistic expectations of what life after college will look like.
“It’s easy to think that when you leave college things are just going to fall into place,” said Shores, “but it’s important to keep an open mind about what life after college will entail because life usually doesn’t turn out exactly how you expect it to.”
Shores also offered advice to graduating seniors and younger students. For those who will soon be leaving campus, Shores advised that they “come up with a concrete plan for what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get involved before you leave here, because here you live life in community but so many of us lose that right after we leave college.”
For those who still have time left at AU, Shores urged them to “utilize the resources that you have here at your disposal, like the Career Development Center, seminars like this, and free counseling. Be willing to seek out help and resources.”
Katrina Canfield and Courtney Fair also spoke at the first SWAGG session. Canfield and Fair teach fitness classes at Beverly Christian Church in Anderson. Their presentation brought up issues such as body image, developing and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits and allowing nutrition and exercise to become idols in our lives.
Canfield believes that “when we are emotionally, spiritually and physically well, we are more effective tools for the kingdom.” She explained that “the Lord created us as a holistic person with a body, mind and heart, and our bodies are powerful and effective tools we can use to learn about God and to show others who He is.”
Canfield and Fair agree that it is spiritually and physically unhealthy to obsess over numbers on a scale. Instead, we should strive to arrive at a place where we are comfortable with who we are and how God made us. “Our bodies are an expression of our hearts. They are like an animation of the spirit inside of us,” said Fair.
This lecture series was created a few years ago with the purpose of educating soon-to-be graduates on practical issues they will soon face. However, Brown explains, “these SWAGG sessions are a great tool for everyone, regardless of what year they are in school.” It is never too early to acquaint yourself with the idea of post-college life.
“Nobody has their life figured out, and these sessions are a way for students to begin to learn about what life after college may be like from AU alumni speakers who have experienced exactly what AU students are going to experience,” Brown said.