Finding purpose, embracing change in life after college

Welcoming what future chapters bring


Jacky Chen

Teresa Tsang, MFA Program Assistant and recent alumnus, updating the MFA department project board.

Kaley Oschmann , Staff Reporter

When Teresa Tsang, a recent Seattle Pacific University graduate, began her internship at Camp Casey over spring break in 2019, she thought it would just be a part-time job. 

Through her hard work and passion for creative writing, her supervisors were impressed and offered her a full-time post-graduate job as the program assistant for the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program at SPU. 

She was not expecting the internship to turn into her first full-time job and Tsang embraced the opportunity.  

Life after college is about embracing change and finding one’s sense of self in the face of uncertainty.

“If you apply yourself to the things you love and are open to the opportunities around you, good things will come,” Tsang, who double majored in English and Social Justice and Cultural Studies, said.  

“There is a certain element of just letting what will be, be.”

People experience many changes and follow many paths after graduating college, from graduate school to working full-time or just taking time to relax.

Three 2019 graduates, Tsang, Devin Atsatt and Hayley Cheyney Kanē, all took a unique combination of those routes.

Atsatt is using his degree in photography to pursue freelance photography and is working on multiple projects. 

After taking the summer after graduation to travel, Kanē, who majored in physiology, is shadowing at Swedish hospital, presenting her research at conferences and preparing to apply for medical school. 

A common thread between the experiences of these three graduates is the shift from an academic world to the ‘real world.’

“There was a slump that I have experienced after college because you kind of have to figure it all out on your own now,” Kanē said. “In the real world, there is no direct path to success, like there is in college. You have to wrestle with that for a while.” 

In college, the direct path to success is to graduate. In order to succeed in college, students’ lives are filled with homework and deadlines. 

But in the real world, the path can become uncertain. It takes some time to figure out what is next. 

One adjustment all three graduates agreed on is that having no homework for the first time in life is a very freeing experience.

“I feel like there has been a weight lifted off of my shoulders because of not having so many deadlines. I have way more freedom now,” Atsatt said. 

Others, like Tsang, use their newfound sense of freedom to pursue different activities like reading and baking. 

Eliminating the deadlines of assignments has allowed space in the graduates’ lives to find different ways to spend their time. 

“To rediscover the things that I enjoy has been one of the best parts of post-grad. I love school but have lost a lot of my identity to it because it has been so consuming,” Tsang said.

These alumni had to adjust to a new way of having a social life. 

Being in college and, as a result, being in close proximity to others allows a sense of belonging, so what happens after college is an adjustment.

“I did not expect to become so immediately separated from the SPU community,” Atsatt said. 

On campus at SPU, there are people around in every building or common space which makes it easy to socialize or hang out with others.

For Atsatt, having more freedom means having more time to be intentional with his social life. 

“Now, I have to be intentional about hanging out with people and nobody really told me about that before graduation,” Atsatt added.

For Kanē, refiguring her social life means letting go of how things used to be.

She describes the changes as being similar to what happens in the shift from high school to college. Often times, friend groups change and become smaller as people move away from one another. 

Although graduation season is quarters away, senior year of college can be an emotional time for students and goes by quickly.

“I felt equally terrified and excited. But I now learned that it is okay to be terrified as long as you continue to push forward,” Atsatt said.

Graduating is the closing of one chapter and the beginning of the next, so unexpected change is bound to happen, Kanē noted.

“Growth and change are always hard, but always necessary.”