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alicia oken
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Alicia Oken

Graduation year: 2013

Majors: Political science, communication studies, multimedia journalism and mass communication

Activities: Augustana Observer, Student Government Association, WAUG, Sigma Alpha Iota, College Democrats, Club Tennis, Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortar Board, Concert Band

Post-grad plans: Georgetown University or Columbia University’s graduate school for journalism

Why did you choose to attend Augustana?

The people were really friendly, and I felt at home here. I visited a week before the college acceptance deadline, and when I was walking down the slough path, I knew this was where I was going to attend college. I also enjoyed the idea of trimesters.

Are you where you thought you’d be four years ago? 

Absolutely not. I was not very active in high school so I never thought I’d become so involved in college. I used to make fun of those overachieving kids who seemed to participate in every single activity in high school, and now I am one of those people. I’ve been able to grow as a person and explore my varying interests. 

Who helped you get to where you are now? 

My advisors Dr. Klien, Dr. Whitt and Dr. Dyer were definitely the three main people who helped me become the person I am today. Without these three professors, I would not have had the opportunity to triple major and probably would not have had as many of the experiences that define my college experience. They guided me in choosing classes, nominated me for so many incredible activities, and would always ask how I was doing. I cannot thank them enough for the impact they have had on my life. 

A peak experience?

I’ve had way too many peak experiences. My main ones would include going to a leadership conference at the U.S. Air Force Academy and presenting research papers at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Oklahoma. Collectively, these experiences were opportunities that most other colleges don’t give their students. Also, interning at WGN Radio was definitely a highlight. 

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used Augie Choice in the summer between my sophomore and junior years. With Augie Choice, I was able to intern for Congressman Alcee Hastings in Washington, D.C., which was a dream come true. This was one of the more memorable experiences I’ve had throughout college, since I was able to intern in my favorite city and meet so many wonderful people.

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you? 

Four years ago, I had no interest in journalism. After becoming a writer for the Augustana Observer, I learned that I really love all aspects of journalism. Now I’m going to grad school for journalism! Had I not needed extra spending money, which prompted me to attend an Augustana Observer meeting, who knows where I would be?

What will you miss the most?

Definitely my friends and Whitey’s ice cream. It’s going to be a drastic change from living with someone for four years to seeing her only through Skype and on the holidays. I’m also going to miss seeing the slough path in the fall. There’s nothing quite like walking to class surrounded by a sea of red, yellow and orange.

Advice for the Class of 2017?

It’s really cliché but try new things. All of my favorite activities I joined because I was bored and had no homework the night of the meeting or because a friend convinced me to go. But without that initial step of attending a meeting to find out about an organization, I would not have so many incredible experiences. Also, make sure to smile at people.

"Alicia is the kind of student who translates her ambition into opportunities. Set aside her three majors for a moment — she has interned with members of Congress and WGN Radio, represented Augustana in regional and national leadership conferences, presented her research at a national undergraduate conference and served as a leader in campus organizations from politics to student media. And now she has been accepted to graduate programs in journalism at Columbia University and Georgetown University. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!"

- Dr. Steve Klien Associate Professor, Communication Studies