Reflecting back, looking forward — Graduating seniors from different backgrounds face similar challenges going into last year



Cosette Roberts always knew she wanted to attend the University of Idaho, where both of her parents went to school.

For an assignment in the eighth grade, Roberts wrote that she was going to UI and she was going to be in the marching band. Four years later, that’s exactly what she did.

The Kellogg native chose to major in broadcasting and digital media with a minor in theater, and has been a part of the marching band ever since her first year at the university. Now, as she enters her senior year, Roberts said it feels like her college career is ending too soon.

“It feels like it happened too fast,” Roberts said. “I was just a senior in high school and I’m about to leave for college and I can’t believe (graduation) is already here.”

Roberts said although her undergraduate career went by fast, it was full of new experiences.

“Last year, I was in sports broadcasting and so during football games I would be in marching band and do pre-game and the national anthem, and go back into the stands and change out of my band uniform to do sports broadcasting and then I’d change back into my band uniform and then I’d go back into the stands, it was back-and-forth all game,” Roberts said.

In addition to theater and marching band, Roberts worked as an office aid for the Journalism and Mass Media (JAMM) Department. After her work study there ended, Roberts returned to McDonald’s, where she was first hired at the age of 14.

Roberts said she doesn’t currently have concrete plans lined up following graduation, but her long-term post-graduate goals include traveling.

“I definitely want to travel eventually, like Europe would be amazing,” Roberts said.” There’s a lot of stuff I feel like I could end up doing, there’s also — like, I’ve joked about maybe I’ll travel the world and work at different McDonald’s. Then I could make a documentary and tie that in.”

Despite the uncertainty of life after graduation, Roberts said she is grateful for the experiences she had and the people she met during her undergraduate career.

“Everything I’ve been involved in has been amazing,” Roberts said. “I’ve just — with McDonald’s and broadcasting and theater and band, I’ve made so many friends I know will probably last a lifetime.”

Senior Cosette Roberts let preschoolers play her buck drum during band camp.

When Troy Sanders, a Nampa native, was choosing a university to attend, he liked UI. It was in the state of Idaho, the cost of tuition was reasonable and, he said, it wasn’t Boise State University. Beyond that, Sanders heard good things about the university’s mechanical engineering program, the subject he was interested in studying.

Now, as a graduating senior completing his degree in mechanical engineering, Sanders said he feels ready to begin post-graduate life, but isn’t completely prepared.

“I want to be done and out in the real world, but I also don’t have my finances saved up, I don’t know where I’m going to work in the next ten months or so,” Sanders said. “I’m ready, but not completely prepared, so that’s what this year is kind of for.”

During his time at the university, Sanders became a Resident Assistant (RA), joined the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Cru, a campus Christian organization.

He said when he first transferred to UI from the College of Western Idaho, he was worried about experiencing discrimination because of the color of his skin.

“I’m grateful for this campus,” Sanders said. “It’s extremely safe and tolerant. Being African American, I was coming up here with the idea that people from northern Idaho were kind of white supremacist, but coming here and even seeing the whole election — people who didn’t agree with each other were still tolerant of each other. I haven’t felt any sense of bullying or harassment based off my color, and I’m grateful for that.”

The tolerant environment he experienced helps give him hope for humanity, Sanders said.

Although Sanders said he isn’t sure what the coming year has in store for him, he does plan to use the resources provided by Career Services to begin searching and applying for jobs after graduation.

Unlike Roberts and Sanders, UI Senior George Wood didn’t quite have a specific college in mind while growing up. Wood said he didn’t really think about college at all.

Wood’s father was a horse trainer and jockey, and his mother dropped out of college to pursue a career with a company that ended up going out of business.

“I never thought I would go to college and be able to thrive in this environment because I was exposed to a very different environment growing up,” Wood said. “In that aspect, I definitely diverged from (my parent’s) path, but at the same time, my father taught me hard work and my mother pushed me to go to college so I really have a lot to thank them for.”

Wood was encouraged by his high school journalism teacher, a strong mentor in his life, to attend the university. He decided to enroll at UI as a journalism major.

It was after a legislative reporting internship in Boise that Wood began to question whether he wanted to continue pursuing journalism as a career. Wood said that’s when he realized he needed to take a break from school. Thanks to the guidance of another mentor, Eric Anderson, the associate director of career development for UI Career Services, Wood decided to apply for the AmeriCorps program.

“I’m glad I made that decision, it was incredible, it was uncomfortable, it was a lot of fun, but it was very much outside of my comfort zone,” Wood said. “I saw some really cool places, I was exposed to different cultures and I met some really cool people. I’m really excited about it because I met a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I learned a lot about myself.”

When he returned to school, Wood said he decided to work for the Center for Volunteerism and Social Action, the organization under which he had gone on two Alternative Service Breaks (ASB), one to South Carolina and another to Peru.

Senior George Wood fights fire at Lake George Colorado for AmeriCorps.

“I was working with an excellent team and enjoying the work I was doing, which was awesome,” Wood said. “I had a lot of experiences in college, but after each one I had never thought, ‘I want to do this again.’ This job was the first time I felt that way.”

Like Roberts and Sanders, Wood said he isn’t quite sure what his life will look like after he graduates this December, but he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s been able to pursue while at the university.

Wood said of all of the things he’s learned throughout his college career, one of the most important is to follow one’s interests, no matter how small.

“All that you get is a glimmer, a tiny little spark of an interest in something and that ends up becoming something much larger,” Wood said. “Listen to that. Follow your interests and give them an honest chance.”

Corrin Bond can be reached at or on Twitter @CorrBond

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