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Kaitlyn MacDonald
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Kaitlyn MacDonald

Graduation year: 2019

Hometown: Washington, Ill.

Majors: History education, middle grades education-social science

Minor: Creative writing

Activities: Augustana Vikettes Dance Team, Augustana Dance Company, Chi Alpha Pi sorority, Augie Catholic, Student United Way, Mortar Board, Order of Omega

Internships: I had clinical experiences at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, United Township High School and North Scott Junior High School. During fall term of my senior year, I student-taught seventh grade social studies at North Scott Junior High!

Post-grad plans: I will be teaching 7th grade English/language arts at Georgetowne Middle School in Marquette Heights, Ill.!

Why Augustana?

From the moment I first visited Augustana’s campus, it felt like home. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other, so I loved being on a campus where people not only knew each other by name, but also smiled and waved at the people they didn’t know! Augie seemed to be its own perfect, little community. Besides, when I was making pro/con lists of all of the colleges I was visiting, I could never quite seem to find any cons to put under “Augie.” Being a Viking just felt right. Thank goodness I made the decision I did—I can’t imagine my college experience being anywhere but here.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?

I would say yes…and no. While I have always wanted to be a teacher and that part of my lifelong dream came true, so many other elements of my life have developed during my time here. I have grown more than I ever thought was possible. If you would have told me by the end of senior year that I would have traveled internationally for the first time, made eternally lasting friendships and had life-changing, life-defining experiences, I would have said you were crazy! I look back on my time at Augie, and I am in true awe of how many moments have shaped me into who I am today.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

So many people have helped me get to where I am today. However, if I had to pick a few, to provide the greatest snapshot, it would involve two groups of people.

The first being my parents. My mom and dad never stopped supporting me throughout my time at Augie. They answered every phone call (for the good news, the bad news, and everything in between), always took interest in my classes and what I was accomplishing academically, and consistently supported me—coming to every Vikette performance at football and basketball games, every Dance Company Show and every CAP event.

The other group being my professors, especially in the education and history departments. More specifically, my “Augie parents,” at my home away from home: my education professors Katie Hanson, Michael Scarlett and Michael Schroeder. These three incredible individuals have helped me grow so much—personally, professionally and academically. They have been there for me in and out of the classroom, and have pushed me to be the educator I am today.

Peak experience?

When I think of a peak experience at Augie, it’s a four-way tie!

  1. Student Teaching: Student teaching was full of so many pivotal, life-changing moments. It was the final leg of my journey toward becoming the absolute best version of myself, both as a person and professional. Plus, call me crazy, but I loved spending my fall term surrounded by 180 7th graders!
  2. Rome: I knew if I had the opportunity to study abroad, I would like it, but I never knew how much I would LOVE it. My trip to Italy happened at a time in my life when I needed it most—revitalizing my spirit, broadening my perspectives and satisfying my craving for adventure and desire to travel. It filled a void in me I didn’t even know I had!
  3. Dance: Through Vikettes and Dance Company, I was able to continue my lifelong dancing career. My experiences helped grow as an athlete, performer and leader. As a bonus, these groups also gave me some of the friendships I cherish most from my time at Augie.
  4. Junior Year: Speaking of friendships, living in the Swanson TLA my junior year provided an unexpected, but appreciated, change in my life. I became best F-R-I-E-N-D-S with not only the girls in my apartment, but also the group of guys across the hall. I thought junior year would be “too late in the game” to develop strong friendships, but I was so wrong! When I look back on my college experience, I can’t imagine it without the friends I made because of where I lived junior year (thanks Res Life!).

What surprised you?

I learned the most about and gained the greatest appreciation for my own inner strength. Though I loved my time in college, there were also some difficult moments. From those experiences, I learned about my ability to be at the bottom of the mountain and find the courage and strength to climb back up to the top. I guess the greatest surprise about all of this is that I look back at those challenging times and do not feel saddened, but proud of myself and all I have overcome and achieved.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used Augie Choice to travel to Italy the summer after my sophomore year! While there, I experienced the beauty of Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona, Pompeii, Pisa and Cinque Terre. My time in Italy completely changed my life. I was unsure whether I would ever get the chance to travel internationally, let alone during college, but Augie Choice made my dream a reality.

What will you miss the most?

Everything! Although what I will perhaps miss most is the beauty of it all…the physical beauty of Augie, and the inner beauty of the people here. I will miss seeing the trees change on the Slough, walking on the Swanson bridge, hearing the Old Main bells chime, seeing the football and basketball stands packed with blue and gold from out on the field or court, and feeling the calming presence of the stained-glass windows in Ascension Chapel.

Beyond that, I will miss not only my professors, friends, teammates and classmates, but also the strangers I pass and smile at on the Quad, in the library and in the residence halls. The outward beauty of Augie and the beauty the people radiate have made this place my home for the past four years, and I will miss it all more than I can put into words.

Advice for the Class of 2023?

Cherish every single moment. One day it’s Welcome Week of your first year, then you blink and you’re picking up your cap and gown. It all goes so fast…too fast. Enjoy all of the “big” moments, but slow down to appreciate the “small” moments, too.

Stick around after class and talk with your professors, stay up after you finish that big assignment (no matter how late it is!) and chat with your roommate, smile at everyone on the Quad, take chances, establish new friendships and relationships, go to campus events, get involved, lead—make the most of every second you have on this beautiful campus, so when you pick up your cap and gown, you can do nothing but look back and smile.

Be proud of the experiences you had during your time at Augie; make walking across that stage be about so much more than getting a diploma.

"Kaitlyn truly has made the most of her time at Augie! As a double major in history education and middle grades education: social science, she has somehow found a way to add a minor in creative writing, study abroad and be a captain of the Vikettes. Rather than spreading herself too thin, she has truly put her heart and soul into everything she has done, enriching the lives of her peers, professors and the students she has taught. Kaitlyn will be a fantastic teacher!"

– Dr. Michael Scarlett, associate professor, education