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More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Rebecca Garbe

Graduation year: 2020

High school: Lyons Township High School

Hometown: La Grange, Ill.

Majors: Anthropology, French

Activities: Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble, French Table, French Club, Phi Beta Kappa

Internship: La Grange Area Historical Society

Post-grad plans: I plan to take a gap year or two to spend time with family and travel before going to grad school to get my Ph.D. in anthropology.

Why Augustana?

I chose Augustana because from the moment I stepped on campus, it felt like home. I knew after my first visit that this would be the college I would attend, and I have never regretted that decision. The campus community that I was welcomed into was warm, inviting and active. I quickly found my place here. Not to mention, I liked the small class sizes, and the opportunity to really get to know my peers and professors.

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

Not at all! But in a good way! Augustana has been a place of major transformation for me—it's where I found my footing. I came here unsure of where I was going, who I would become, and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And, because of Augie, I was able to explore so many more options and opportunities than I had ever thought were available to me. Now, I have a strong sense of who I am and who I want to be.

Who helped you get to where you are now? 

Many of my professors helped me get to where I am now. In particular, Dr. Adam Kaul helped set a foundation for how I will continue to think and be a part of anthropology as a discipline as I move forward. Over these past four years, he has listened and advised me through my continuous indecision when it came to how I wanted to use my degree, and I wouldn't have the direction I do now without his help. 

My other professor who was a big part of this was Dr. Kiki Kosnick. Dr. Kosnick has always been supportive of my goals and ideas—their guidance encouraged me to turn my questioning and critical thinking into action. It was their teaching and commitment to their students that inspired me to want to pursue teaching at a university level after graduate school.

Peak experience?

The Montréal tour that I went on with my choir, the Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble, was definitely my peak Augie experience. I was in Jenny Lind for all four of my years at Augie and grew to know the other members well—we are a family. Being able to go abroad with them and sing in the Notre-Dame Basilica was absolutely incredible.

What surprised you?

I was surprised how much I was able to travel! I studied abroad in India; toured with my choir in Montréal, Canada; and I even got to complete my anthropology Senior Inquiry fieldwork in northern Minnesota!

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to travel with the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department to India. It was the most amazing trip! I learned a lot, ate amazing food and came home with so many memories.

What will you miss the most?

What I will miss the most is what drew me to Augustana in the first place: the community. I had never been a part of such a strong, welcoming community before coming to Augie, and it definitely played a huge part in shaping my college experience.

Advice for the Class of 2024?

Don't take anything for granted. Your time in college, the people you meet, the places you go, the things you learn—it's all precious. Soak up every moment you can. Cross things off your bucket list, explore, learn, grow. Embrace your time in college; it can change you for the better.

"Rebecca is super smart with an extraordinarily kind heart and passion for social justice that drive R’s academic work and everyday engagement. I am grateful for Rebecca’s activism, thoughtful receptivity and powerful voice. It has been a gift to collaborate on various projects, and I have learned so much from Rebecca as advisor of R’s French Senior Inquiry and Honors capstone. I look forward to learning how Rebecca’s many gifts will continue to make a difference in our world."

– Dr. Kiki Kosnick, assistant professor, French