A lump formed in my throat the morning I had to wave goodbye to my mom from the red bricks of Academy Street. She pulled away in her rental car, waving in the rear view mirror, and I turned around and joined my other Landsea participants and soon-to-be classmates in Hicks. I remember feeling all at once wide open and tightly closed.

When I arrived at K, I thought that by now I should know what I wanted to study but in reality I was just as confused as ever. When people asked, “what do you want to study?” I outwardly responded with a smile, thoughtful nods, and “probably psychology” while my insides swelled with panic and guilt.

I was grateful for K’s open curriculum, which allowed me to spend my first year shopping around in different departments to see which one might be a good fit for me. I eventually landed on Anthropology and Sociology because the classes interested me the most and the major requirements were flexible. After years of being forced to take certain classes even if I had no interest in them, I felt empowered by the ability to choose exactly what I wanted to take.

The Anthropology and Sociology classes I took as well as my introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality class challenged me to unpack my ideas of social justice. These classes completely transformed my worldview. It was like I had been walking around with foggy glasses for my whole life – sort of being able to see the picture in front of me but only seeing clearly once they had been wiped clean.

Some of my most cherished memories that K provided me include anything that revolved around experiential learning. From my externship to the many service-learning classes I took to my study away program in Chicago to the CBI summer internship I had, I was allowed to learn through community engagement, which I have found is the most impactful for me.

As I neared the end of my sophomore year, I was grateful that K offered domestic study away opportunities in addition to study abroad. I was more interested in getting experience in the work force and figuring out what sort of professional work environment worked for me than doing a study abroad program, so the Chicago Program really appealed to me. I truly believe that the internship experience that I had in Chicago prepared me to be highly qualified for the internship with the YWCA I completed last summer that I ended up basing my SIP off of.

My SIP wasn’t the first time that I had conducted an independent study project at K. During the winter of my junior year I designed and completed an independent study in the psychology department centered on self-compassion, vulnerability, and shame. I first heard of the concept of self-compassion from one of the therapists at the counseling center; I can quite safely say that because of this resource offered by K, my life changed completely.

I’ve continued my practice of self-compassion and now that I am a co-facilitator of a new student organization on campus called K Team that focuses on mind-body wellness and empowerment; I am so excited to grow a community of self-care here at K.

As I think back to that farewell moment right before Landsea, I remember feeling so uncertain and afraid. If only I had known what incredible experiences were waiting for me. In a lot of ways I feel like K has given me all that I need, and now I am in a place where I want to give back.

From one nostalgic K College senior to you, reader: I hope my experience has offered you some clarity or comfort.

-Savannah Kinchen ’18