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Aubrey Waddick
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Aubrey Waddick

Graduation year: 2016

Majors: Political science, economics

Minors: Chinese, French

Activities: Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Psi Omega theater society, Sigma Kappa Tau sorority, numerous theatrical productions

Internship: Quad Cities Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees

Post-grad plans: Going to Penn State’s Ph.D. program for international relations

Why Augustana?

Augustana was absolutely beautiful when I visited, and it didn't hurt that the school offered so much financial aid. However, what really attracted me was how kind and open the professors were. Although I was only on campus for a pre-decision visit, by the end of the day all the professors and students I had met knew my name and were genuinely interested in me as a person. I already felt like a part of the campus community!

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

When I started college, I thought I'd graduate in four years with just some general degree and get a desk job. I never imagined I would be preparing to enter a Ph.D. program at Penn State. I never dreamed that I would travel to the far reaches of western China, see the dazzling lights of Tokyo or conduct original research in Vermont and Washington, D.C. I never thought I would be a member of a sorority, ride a cardboard boat down the Slough or learn to make fried plantains with an international student after a 3 a.m. study session. Although I thought I'd still be at Augustana in four years, I never imagined the risk, triumph and adventure that waited for me in between matriculation and graduation.

Who helped you?

Professors and administrators have been my greatest support system. From academic growth to personal discovery, Augustana's amazing faculty and staff are dedicated to each student and their success. I was challenged to think in new ways, while being encouraged to develop my own personal values and worldview. My educators were my greatest allies, and I can't thank them enough for supporting me and my dreams!

A peak experience?

My ‘peak' experience was watching the sun rise from the top of a mountain in Eastern China. Five students, two professors and I were conducting political research in Beijing on a grant program, and we decided to make a side trip to a sacred Buddhist mountain. I'll never forget the feel of climbing the last step to the summit. I remember thinking, "If I can climb this mountain, then I can finish this field research and write a publishable paper!"

What did you learn about yourself that has surprised you?

During my time at Augie, I learned that I can do anything. Entering college, it's easy to ‘peg' yourself as something, like an ‘athlete' or a ‘scientist' or just ‘mediocre.' Augustana showed me that people never fit into these pegged archetypes. Even though I thought I was just an ‘OK' student, I had the potential to be phenomenal. I could be an actress and an economist, all while studying Shakespeare and running marathons. We each have so much potential, and Augustana taught me how to continually strive to improve myself.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used Augie Choice to study abroad in East Asia, and it was probably the best decision I've ever made. The trip was a phenomenal educational and personal experience. However, there is a little-known secret about Augie Choice... it's only one of a number of grants available for students. I've used travel grants to present research in Washington, D.C.; North Carolina; and Chicago. There's the Freistat Grant that offers funding for international travel and languages studies, and numerous sources for student-led research. So, even though there is only one Augie Choice, the biggest choice is to which amazing opportunities you will apply.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the small and intimate moments I've had at Augustana. Things like drinking coffee and reading class articles in the Brew, walking down the Slough path in spring, and waiting for meetings to begin with my sorority sisters. I'll miss the feeling of leaving my last class on Friday and singing hymns in Ascension Chapel on Sunday. Most of all, I'll miss the excitement of returning to campus after a long break.

Advice for the Class of 2020?

Take advantage of all that Augustana offers. Internships, grants, research projects, jobs, field trips, these are just some of the amazing opportunities Augie provides. You never know where an opportunity may take you. If you're like me, you could enter college expecting a future filled with cubicles and copiers... and leave having traveled to four countries and eight states, presented at six conferences, and being accepted to a fully funded Ph.D. program.

“When I was in China two summers ago working with students doing research on the response to air pollution in China, we took a side trip to Mount Tai, one of China’s five sacred mountains. As I trudged up the endless stairways, Aubrey and a couple of her friends went shooting on ahead, climbing higher than I could. That is how it has been working with Aubrey. We talk about a project, and then she goes shooting up the mountain. I learn a lot from what she finds up there.”

— Dr. David Dehnel, professor, political science