Final Chapters and New Beginnings

The Syrinx’s 2021 grads reflect on their time at FPU

With every semester, new faces join the FPU community and familiar ones depart; it is the constant bittersweet rhythm of academia. This semester, The Syrinx is saying farewell to five graduating seniors from our staff: Kassandra Klein, Sheyla Castillo, Shyanne Mortimer, Shelbi Hayzlett and Luke Fredette. Below, each of our graduating seniors were invited to reflect on their time at FPU and share their final thoughts as they prepare for graduation. 

Kassandra Klein, Bachelor of Arts in English: Secondary Teaching and Intercultural Studies: TESOL

Like the gangways that connect docks to ships and terminals to airplanes, FPU has been a site of transition for me. Over the past four years, I have grappled with my sense of identity and watched it take shape. I came in as an insecure girl who avoided questions about herself and am leaving as a confident young woman who has a much stronger sense of who she is and what she stands for. I’ve done things that I would have never imagined myself doing four years ago: I danced my heart out in Mock Rock, hiked up and down the Great Wall of China, and presented my research in the Alpha Chi National Convention. And, like a gangway, FPU has been a small step leading me to a much longer, much larger journey. Soon I’ll start applying the theories I learned in class to real life situations and using the research I wrote in papers to inform my critical thinking. After I leave FPU, I can’t say I’ll miss the constant roar of the leaf blower outside my dorm window, or the occasional cockroach scuttling across the bathroom floors or the unhealthy stress of being an overworked honors student. But I will always be fond of the late nights chats in the Forest under the string lights, the smell of dewy grass on quiet walks to a morning class and the lifelong bonds I have formed with faculty and peers. I am on the cusp of graduation—the end of the gangway—and I’m ready for the next leg of my journey. 

Sheyla Castillo, Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with minor in Psychology

As a first generation student coming into FPU I felt as if I was treading unknown waters. Graduating college to me feels like I have made it to the other side of the ocean. Through my journey at FPU I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and have created a bond with mentors and professors who have truly impacted the way I see myself and my future career. I have truly found myself and my passions through my collegiate journey through various experiences in and out of the classroom. Some being a passion for social justice, mental health advocacy, and learning to love my neighbor. I will miss being a part of the Residence Life team and being able to create relationships with people who I would have never expected to be friends with. I will miss entering the caf and wondering who I would sit with on that day. Although my last two years were spent on a screen it has taught me to not take small moments with friends for granted and to be flexible with unexpected changes. I am excited to move on to the next chapter of my life where I will be working at a Non-profit organization on a path to getting accredited through the Department of Justice to be able to provide assistance to immigrant and asylum communities, and working toward my goal of attending law school. 

Shyanne Mortimer, Bachelor of Arts in English

Passing by in the blink of an eye, my time at Fresno Pacific has changed my life. First arriving as a girl with big dreams who was too afraid to speak up, I have now discovered my voice and the power it holds. I will never forget my professors who gave me the courage to be proud of my work or the friends who have been by my side. While I won’t miss the squirrels rushing in front of you or the countless hours spent dedicating to reading for a class, I will always miss attending basketball games and late night walks to the cafe. Although half of my college experience was spent on Zoom, even our online sessions taught me I was capable of handling unexpected life changes. I wish my remaining months had been spent on campus, studying in the forests with friends, I will always feel grateful for the memories I do have. With only two weeks left I am ready to put my years of undergrad behind me and begin the next stage of my life, law school.

Shelbi Hayzlett, Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology – Exercise Science

Growth, achievement, and self-discipline: these are only a fraction of what I have gained from these past four years at Fresno Pacific. From being a student-athlete, an editor, a daughter to a fiancé, I have battled physically and mentally with the multitude of challenges I’ve had to face. Although my years in college have been a complete rollercoaster, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Whether it be earning first place in conference or improving my grades each semester, these will be memories I carry with me onto my next stage. Growing into who I am now from my coaches and professors, I realized my self-worth and what I can do with it in the future. I am excited to move on from this experience and start the next chapter of physical therapy school alongside my loved ones. Although I will miss my teammates, classmates, and people I consider my life-long friends, FPU will always be considered one of my homes.

Luke Fredette, Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy

I am not the same person as I was when I entered FPU; not even close. Beyond even the change in location from Arizona to California, the knowledge I possess has grown, my beliefs have changed and shifted, and I’m quite sure (thanks to numerous philosophical classes) that I no longer even think the same way. While only time will truly tell on that score, all of these, I like to think, have been for the better. There are times when I consider, 3-4 years in, other schools I could have chosen for college. Some may have offered better connections, or provided deeper resources. But those discussions always end with the same realization: in order to become the person who would choose those schools, I needed to attend Fresno Pacific University first. That is this wonderful school’s greatest gift: it transforms you into a person willing to make the best possible choices for yourself, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable they may seem.

Our graduating seniors would like to thank all of the staff, faculty, family, and friends who have helped them along their journey at FPU. But now it’s time for us to say, “So long, Syrinx; hello, world!”

Authors: Kassandra Klein;Sheyla Castillo; Shyanne Mortimer; Shelbi Hayzlett; Luke Fredette | Copy Editor; A&E Co-Editors; Production Manager; Chief Copy Editor

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