By Reflection, We Learn Most Nobly

Looking Back at the Lessons Learned By CAC’s Upcoming Class of Graduates

R.L.T Prankard, Cactus Writer

There come in life moments wherein the timing is apt for one to reflect on their past, to think of all that they have learned and where such lessons are taking them. Graduation, be it from high school, college, or university, exists as one of these momentous occasions when reflection is almost quintessential for one to truly learn from their experiences as a student. Confucius once said that wisdom is learned through three methods, “…first, by reflection, which is the most noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third, by experience, which is most bitter.” It is reflection that is the most important method in learning, the “noblest” method, and it is here that, for a moment, we stop and look back at the lessons learned by those students who find themselves graduating this coming May.

One such student being Jedana Bloodgood, who is looking towards continuing her education off in Oregon with aspirations of finding new ways to help children heal through musical therapy. Originally entering CAC with intentions of becoming a performer in the entertainment industry, Jedana’s experiences over the past few years have helped in shaping her present goals. “Being in the Entertainment Industry Technology Program was what I wanted to do when I came to this school, it helped me to discover that I’m not quite the performer I was hoping. And that’s okay, because some people can’t handle it, and I’m one of those people, and I’m fine with that. But I still want to continue in music, more as a hobby so I don’t hate my life for it.” She also attributes much of her learning to the relatability of the professors she studied under. “I learned the most out of the classroom, when I had one-on-one time with teachers. Because I met a lot of fantastic professors who were able to make a personal connection to students so as to understand them as individuals better, I learned a lot from them as people, not just as teachers.”

Another student who finds themselves reflecting upon their upcoming graduation is Caitlin Castillo, who aims to take her love of the arts and continue pursuing a degree in fine arts and liberal studies with the hopes of becoming a curator at an art museum someday. “One of my favorite moments here at CAC was being able to hang my art up in the student gallery- it gave me an exciting feeling. I’m definitely going to miss hanging up my art… I’m definitely going to miss that.” And being in drama, I did a few plays here, I did Oklahoma, I did To Kill a Mockingbird, and they were really fun, I love acting, even though it’s not my active major.” When asked about the support which has been most helpful, Caitlin told us “Definitely the teachers. I like how Dr. Keeling will send me an email every now and then checking on my progress, and so on. Same with Professor Ramos, my art teacher. That’s what I like about the teachers, they help you uplift your spirits when you’re feeling discouraged about your work.” For Caitlin, the biggest lesson learned was to “Never get pregnant during a school year. I thought I could graduate the same year I got pregnant, but it never happened. I had to take a lot of classes, and although my teachers were sympathetic and allowed me to make up the work, the overload was just too much. So I just ended up dropping and having to retake all the classes, which set me back graduating.”

Stacey Esparza also finds herself reflecting back on her time at CAC. When asked about what it was that she enjoyed most, “…Working on the Cactus and making amazing friends, waking at eight in the morning for Plant Biology with Professor Geldmacher, the many history classes I took with Professor Carson, and enjoying math with Professor Parsons.” Stacey also spoke of how her most important learning experiences came from a goal to be social and establish new friendships. “The biggest learning experience was to push myself to make new friends and be social. Often, you can enter a school, come to class, leave and not engage. It was my goal to come to CAC, make some friends and know that even after I graduate, they will still be a part of my life. I know that I accomplished that goal, and I leave CAC more rounded and with a handful of special people in my life.” With plans to move onto university at ASU, Stacey expects her academic life to become more challenging. However, she is hopeful that, with the support of friends, family, and past professors, she will be successful in the end. “Along my journey at CAC, I’ve come to admire and respect the professors that I know will be there if I need any guidance or just a friendly chat.”

Melissa Sikes is also on the path to attending ASU after graduating from CAC. She is looking forward to obtaining a Bachelor’s in English within the next two years. “I would like to get a job as an editor of some sort… Once I have gained enough work experience, I will attend graduate school at either Arizona State University or somewhere back east, like the University of Maryland.” Like many young folks, however, Melissa is uncertain of what it is that she would like to do in life. “To tell you the truth, I really do not know what I want to do with my future. I don’t know what type of job I am going to get, where I’m going to live, or if my major is going to remain the same. Who knows, maybe I’ll take a semester off and try to figure out what I really want. You never know where life is going to take you until you’re there.”

From these reflections we see the lessons of life each graduating student has learned. These lessons are there for us to remember, to learn for ourselves so that we, too, might find success as these graduates have. All students set to receive a degree at the end of this semester have been through the first of many crucibles in their academic career, and each has earned the right to hold high their achievements for all to see. When next you pass a graduating peer, tilt your cap to them and congratulate them on a job well done. Best wishes for a bright future Class of 2015!