Onto Bigger and Brighter Horizons

Graduating seniors sharing their memories and tips to those still working on their degrees

Features > Onto Bigger and Brighter Horizons
Jaclyn Lukas, Staff Writer

With the semester coming to an end it is once again time for the seniors of Kean University to wrap up their time here, to move on to bigger and brighter things. Although graduation is a little different this year, these students are about to cross one of the biggest milestones in their young adult lives. As they reminisce over their last four years and the things they have learned, these students leave behind words of wisdom for those finishing their degrees. 

Ajete Zenelaj, is currently a senior in her last semester at Kean University. She will be graduating with a bachelor's degree in English Writing and a minor in Psychology. Having spent an extra year at Kean due to switching her major, Zenelaj is very excited to be graduating. 

Zenelaj said, "I feel great about being done with my college years. Although I’m planning on going back to school in September, it feels nice to be done with this degree.” 

Planning to become a nurse, Zenelaj feels that Kean has prepared her by having a mix of science and liberal arts causing her to become more well-rounded. Kean also taught her that there is no shame in changing your major. It is okay to modify your plans because we all move at different paces and never know where life will take us. 

When asked if there are any tips she has for students working on their degrees, Zenelaj said, “Keep going. It’s tough, but you will get through it. It literally feels like you blinked and then that’s it, you’re done!”

In a year’s time Zenelaj see’s herself in her second semester of nursing school. She hopes to be eating right, working out and studying a lot. Most importantly she wishes to be happy and is hopeful the pandemic will be over as well. Zenelaj will, however, miss her college years at Kean. 

Zenelaj said she will miss, “The ability to find a random event on campus and go to it. The laughter that happens over Zoom calls and the funny group chats.” 

Another English Writing major, Riley Pond, will be leaving Kean after this semester with a bachelor's degree in English Writing. Having felt heartbroken for the seniors last year and also fearing for herself, Pond is relieved that she gets a graduation ceremony. 

When asked about her plan after graduation, Pond said, “I hope to take time for myself for the rest of the year! Graduate school is on the horizon but I am in no rush. For the remaining months of the year, I hope to travel across the U.S. to places my mom once visited and/or lived to learn more about her. I want to be able to share her stories!” 

In the past four years Kean has encouraged Pond to believe in and never give up on herself, teaching her perseverance and resilience. A bittersweet feeling comes to mind as she reminisces over the end of her college years, Pond knows she will miss Kean University but she is very proud of herself for pushing through all of the hurdles thrown at her. Pond has made a home, friends and found herself in these years at college. 

Tips that Pond decided to leave behind were, “You can do it! Everyone has their own unique set of challenges laid ahead. Each little headache will make you a stronger person and a better scholar. In moments where you feel truly tested, give yourself a break. Find the balance between work and pleasure. Try not to burn yourself out! Never feel dumb for dropping a class or changing your major, it may be the smartest decision you can make!” 

Both of these amazing women have found their place and themselves at Kean University. They were offered a community of people who shared similar interests as them and because of it, they have not only learned so much academically but learned so much more about themselves. 

A big congratulations on your Commencement, Zenelaj and Pond! 

about the author

Jaclyn Lukas, Staff Writer


Jaclyn Lukas is an English major with a concentration in writing. She joined The Cougar’s Byte staff in Spring 2021. After her time at Kean, Jaclyn hopes to start her professional career in publishing for books or newspapers/magazines.