Wartburg helped me find my authentic self

NAME: Lauren Matysik 

CLASS YEAR: 2015 

MAJORS: Graphic design and art 

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Graphic designer and photographer, RAYGUN

WHY WARTBURG: My original intention was to go to Wartburg to study music. After deciding to change my major, the question became, “Why are you going to stay at Wartburg?” I was fortunate enough to find the fine arts department with its incredible professors and small class sizes, and I knew I wasn’t going to find this kind of tight-knit program anywhere else.  

WHY IS WARTBURG WORTH IT: I’ve managed to make connections and relationships with professors that will last the rest of our lifetimes. I cannot imagine getting that kind of love, attention, and constant push to strive for more anywhere else, and I can never begin to thank my instructors enough for seeing something in me that I didn’t. 

WHAT DID YOU NEVER IMAGINE YOU WOULD DO BEFORE COMING TO WARTBURG:  I never thought I could be my true, authentic self because I wasn’t aware of who she was. My professors saw that in me and helped me not only bring her to the surface, but to her full potential. She is weird, quirky, and a big ol’ goofball, but I love her and couldn’t imagine being anyone else. The ability to be yourself unashamedly is a great gift, and I’ll forever be indebted to my professors for helping guide me down that path. 

HOW DID YOUR WARTBURG EXPERIENCE PREPARE YOU FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: It taught me that I am responsible for myself—my successes and my failures are mine and mine alone. You always the have the support of friends and family, but it’s that extra push from you that gets you where you want to go. Oh yeah, and group projects? You know that annoying guy who makes life so much harder than it needs to be? Yeah, sometimes that guy will be your co-worker, or worse, your client. And you will have to work with them whether you like it or not. So buck up and deal. 

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: College is about being selfish. And I don’t mean that you can do whatever you want and not be held accountable for your actions or how your actions make other people feel. Quite the opposite. There will be times where you will want to do (or not do) something that is not the norm, and you should absolutely, 100 percent do it. But then learn from it. Own up to what worked, and own up to what didn’t. Making excuses for yourself won’t do you any good—once you’ve graduated, nobody wants to hear those excuses; they won’t get you anywhere. (Honestly, no one wants to hear them in college either.) But if you take the time to do the things you want, learn from the experiences, and move forward with that newfound knowledge, it will shape you into a person who is going to adult so freaking hard.