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What do we do After Grad?

What do we do After Grad?

Newly graduated students, in their robes, are stood in front of the camera with smiling faces to celebrate their accomplishment.

Looking Back and Looking to the Future 

By Ben Wexler 

They strutted onto our university four years ago and studied their way through one election, a global pandemic, and the Russian-Ukrainian war; now, it’s time to hear from the graduates about their favorite and not so favorite experiences while walking at the University.  

Question: What was your favorite experience at Walla Walla? 

Juan Ruiz, senior business accounting major who secured a job as associate accountant at Advent Health, responded. He said, “I worked as a Hispanic Ministries Co-leader. I learned how to work with a big group of people even though the pandemic,” and that “It was nice getting together and praising God and disconnecting from school while hearing God’s word from different people.” [1] 

Gaby Becraft, senior clinical social work major, said, “My favorite experiences occurred outside the campus with other university students going on camping trips or hot spring trips and exploring what Walla Walla has to offer.” [2] 

Matthew Negley, senior business finance major, said, “I love that Walla Walla pushes discussions that are uncomfortable and the welcomes the debate of political topics. Walla Walla taught me how to look at topics independently and recognize certain bias that you might have going into discussion and be open to seeing things from other points of view.” Negley added, “The classroom opens the door to ask questions and interact with others from different backgrounds, majors, and studies without barriers.” [3] 

Question: What will you miss most about Walla Walla? 

“I will miss the people,” said Ruiz. “I liked that people are welcoming, loving, caring, and friendly. Sometimes all you need is a big smile from someone else to make your day. The professors and staff care a lot about you and make sure you succeed in your careers, but also in life.” [4] 

Question: What will you not miss? 

Kade Baham, senior graphic design major, said, “My least favorite experience at Walla Walla was the curfews, we are grown adults, and the vegetarian only options at the cafeteria.” [5] 

Similarly, Becraft added that she will “not miss the cafeteria food and living in the dorms.” [6] 

Question: What are you looking forward to the most about post-graduation? 

“I’m most excited about going to the Savannah College of Art and Design to get my master’s in graphic design,” said Baham. [7] 

Negley lamented how, “We are so far away from a surfable beach,” and that “Going back to California is going to help me return to my natural habitat in the water.”  [8] 

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a nuclear power plant with a blue sky with white clouds.

Graduates crowd around and perform the massive cap toss to signify the end of college.
There are both things to miss and to not miss from Walla Walla, but there is a lot to look forward to post-graduation.

Throughout their time at Walla Walla, our graduates have participated in countless hours of volunteer work, part-time jobs, internships, and certificate programs that have developed a wide range of experiences, effectively positioning students as they navigate their careers and lives. However, the transition into independent adult life, away from a school community and detached from family support, will still be full of unforeseen challenges.  

Amongst his list of advice for graduates, Jon Acuff, New York Times Bestselling author of six books, encouraged graduates to take risks while just out of college and to take on fun part-time jobs or travel. “You don’t have mortgages or kids or other responsibilities yet,” said Acuff. “What’s the worst that can happen? You try it for a year, it fails and now you’re 23. You’ve got the rest of your life to play it safe.” [9] 

Life doesn’t have to be boring after college because of work. Don’t be afraid to seek out meaningful, passion-filled work. There will always be hard parts of your job, but you have the power to make the most of your work and grow into a position that isn’t just a ‘job’. [10] 

Acuff learned the importance of maintaining relationships and avoiding burning bridges over the course of his long career. “Every industry is smaller than you think,” said Acuff. “Chances are, you’ll work with a lot of the same people again during your career.” [11] 

While some may not look back fondly on the food or dorm setups, graduates will look back fondly on the experiences and community unique to our College Place community. Enjoy the journey.  


  1. Interview with Juan Ruiz, 5/18/2022. 
  1. Interview with Gaby Becraft, 5/20/2022. 
  1. Interview with Matthew Negley, 5/24/2022. 
  1. Interview with Juan Ruiz, 5/18/2022. 
  1. Interview with Kade Baham, 5/23/2022. 
  1. Interview with Gaby Becraft, 5/20/2022. 
  1. Interview with Kade Baham, 5/23/2022. 
  1. Interview with Matthew Negley, 5/24/2022. 
  1. Acuff, J. (2016, May 23). Life after college: What to do after graduation. Time.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Ibid

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