Baccalaureate Reflections, Karly Prichard ’18

KarlyPrichardBaccalaureate Reflections on the Journey by graduating senior Karly Prichard:

When I think about my experiences at Manchester the last four years, I think of…
A place I called home.
A place I felt encouraged and equipped.
A place I grew into the best version of myself.

As a prospective student, I remember hearing admissions counselors, faculty, and current students share about Manchester’s unique community and how the opportunities to connect with faculty, peers, and community members differed from larger schools. How professors were intentional in creating relationships that went beyond the classroom. How you could walk through campus and feel connected to the people around you. How you were invested in as an individual. 

Without experiencing Manchester‘s community for yourself, it could be easy to brush off the stories people share and wonder if you’ll have similar experiences or if it’s a community for you. But in my first semester, the experiences people shared with me quickly became my own. I felt seen, known, and valued for who I was and challenged to continue growing, learning, and intentionally investing in loving and serving well. 

As I reflect, I’m reminded of the time I spent being with people as Manchester became my home and how valuable relationships were and continue to be. I walk away feeling equipped and encouraged because people took the time to be with me. To make space to have a conversation, to support me in facing a challenge, to teach me outside of the classroom, and to open doors for opportunities to travel, share my art, and to grow in my faith with the women on our campus. I’m reminded of the value of encouraging people, investing in others, and inviting people to be a part of your story. 

As I walk into this new season, I walk away feeling equipped and encouraged, knowing that my professors believed in me, invested in me, and were intentional in making sure I was prepared for what comes next. From faculty to staff to peers I was continually encouraged the last four years. Encouraged to believe in myself. Encouraged to grow in my faith and deepen relationships. Encouraged to use my creativity, experiences, and knowledge to join campus clubs, to start a women’s ministry, to apply for internships and job opportunities.
If you’ve been around Manchester long, you’ve heard everyone from President McFadden to your peers share how Manchester is a place to become the best version of yourself – 

And it’s true.

I’m going to chime in, too, and say Manchester was a place I grew into the best version of myself. 

When I think about the last four years, I like to think of it in terms of the four seasons and how in each season Manchester provided a safe place to let go, rest, grow, and move forward. 

My friend Chris broke this down for me and helped me visualize this in my own life.

In the fall season, I learned to let go of what wasn’t working and was supported as I pivoted towards something better. In the winter that followed, where I was afraid of change, of what people would say and think, I was encouraged to lean in, to process, and to use that season to embrace what was coming. New buds of inspiration and life came in the spring. Change started to happen. I began to clearly see the next step and took bold action. In the summer, I rested and played. I confidentially knew the foundation of my work and who I was and what I was doing. Manchester helped me navigate where I was, learn about who I was, and figure out what was next. 

As a first year, I walked onto campus looking for a place that I could call home. A place where I felt community. A place where I felt like I belonged. 

Now, as a graduate, I walk off campus desiring to create a place others can call home. A place where community and authenticity are found. A place where people feel like they belong just as they are. 

I leave Manchester with confidence knowing the community will continue growing, relationships will deepen, and students will feel at home. I feel proud to be a graduate from Manchester knowing this is the type of environment that invites people in, encourages authenticity, and equips students to succeed. 

Even as this chapter of my story closes, I will continue to remember this as a place I felt at home and remember how encouraged and equipped I was. I’ll remember the 22-year-old version of myself and know that Manchester set a foundation for who I am becoming and who I will continue to become. 

Thank you to everyone who was part of my story at Manchester and the opportunity to reflect on the last four years and share it with you now. 

May 18, 2018