by Jennifer Parsons
The graduating class of 1998 spent this past weekend “Looking Back, Looking Forward.”
Twenty-nine seniors returned to Camp Pilgrim Pines in Yucaipa, where Freshman Orientation was held, to reminisce over their years at the University of La Verne.
“My freshman year [is my most memorable time at La Verne]. The four friends that I made at camp, we stuck together through the whole time, and we are still friends and we’re all friends today, and I think that’s pretty special. The five of us are all going to Hawaii after graduation,” said Kristen Dow, English major.
“Living in the residence halls and taking risks with friends that I never would have taken before, having an awesome time and learning and growing with other people [is my most memorable experience]. The human connections I think are the most important thing that we’ve all made here,” said Tracey Landisi, English major.
The group of seniors who attended met at Michaelangelo’s on Arrow Highway, where they were greeted by the Planning Committee, faculty and President Stephen Morgan. Pizza and soda was served to all who attended.
Once at Pilgrim Pines, introductions were made to those present, and an icebreaker, “move it,” was played.
Then, the Freshmen Orientation ’94 video, put together by Bill Neill, was presented, which gave the group a sense of nostalgia. There was laughter and shouts of recognition in the crowd.
To end the evening, Catholic Campus Minister Elena Cardeña led the Fireside Chat. She reminded the group that “it’s not about what you will be, but what kind of person you’ll be.”
Tears of anxiety, sadness and happiness were shed as the seniors shared their mission statements.
“I will not sit on the fence all day, I will take a stand,” said journalism major Julie Eklund.
“I believe motherhood will be my greatest accomplishment,” said Dow.
“I discovered that I don’t give my parents quite enough credit,” said Kimbley Craig, criminology major.
Saturday morning the seniors were excited to wake up to inches of snow and still more falling. Trash bags were found and used as sleds. Snowballs were thrown, snowmen were made and memories were formed.
Once again, the group met in the lodge where a collage of pictures from the last four years, hung producing many smiles and more memories.
After a wavering electrical line was knocked down by a tree, the camp had no electricity. Despite the lack of heat, seniors and faculty bundled up and made do with the facilities.
Rick Simon, associate professor of mathematics and Terrie Lopez, career development and placement director, led the group in a discussion about the overall university; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Dr. Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs, spent more time on goals for the future.
“I want to be a teacher in high school English, or something of publication, yearbook or a newspaper, and have a family and be happy,” said English major Jennifer Pashone.
The retreat ended with the seniors reading there goal letters which they wrote at Freshmen Orientation. Some were amazed at how on target they were years previously in regards to their goals.
Paromita Nag, behavioral science major, compared freshman camp to senior camp.
“My roommate and I were stuck at the hip and I don’t even know what she’s doing now,” she said. “I just lost touch with so many people but somehow they’ve affected my life greatly.”
Nag also realized how much she has changed since the time she first entered ULV.
“I’m definitely much more self-confident and self-reliant. That is something that La Verne taught me how to do. I was able to have a connection with faculty and staff and students and it was a very friendly and warm atmosphere, it was very cozy,” she said.
In preparing the retreat, the committee wanted to promote reflection and positive attitudes to conclude the seniors’ college careers.
“Retreat went well. [The purpose] is to help seniors reflect and prepare to transition out of ULV. The seniors walked away with a lot of good memories, and they were able to reflect on that but also looked forward,” said Kate Mueller, coordinator of student development programs.
Although most seniors did not attend the retreat, those who did enjoyed the weekend with no regrets.
“I’m kind of disappointed that not more attended [the retreat] because I think it’s a lot better than they’ve made it out to be in the past. I’ve learned a lot, not just about myself, but about what comes next after life, after graduation. I loved it,” said sociology major Adriana Macias.
“Senior retreat is part of my job, but even if it wasn’t I would want to participate, it’s that special,” said Mueller.
“I’m a little bit less naive, a little bit more secure. I thought it was just a place, a stupid camp place, but now it’s like a memory. Whenever I think about La Verne, I’ll think about this place. It will always have a special place in my heart,” said biology major Jerome Garcia.