Life After Ripon – Jessie Lillis ’13

Chapter 3: A Visit to Ripon and Plans for Grad School

[Editor’s Note: Jessie Lillis ’13, Elizabeth Brown ’13, Kyle Ruedinger ’13, and Amy Browender ’13 are writing alternating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]

Jessie Lillis

Jessie Lillis ’13

This month will mark six months that I’ve been out of college. Where has the time gone?! The days are going by so fast, especially now that they’re feeling so short! Fall is one of my favorite times of year, and this fall has definitely not disappointed.

As a Midwesterner at heart, I have been so glad to see the break from the heat and humidity of my DC summer. By the time it finally happened I was long overdue for sweaters and boots! Fortunately, I was able to make a quick trip to the Midwest back in October for a healthy dose of chilly fall weather. I took a few days off of work in early October and flew west to visit Ripon. I chose the dates somewhat at random, but it ended up being the perfect time to visit! I was able to see the theatre department’s production of “The Liar,” as well as attend several events with students, faculty, and alums of the college. It was so great to be able to catch up with everyone and see how the semester was progressing! I will admit, I had a bit of a hard time saying goodbye to everyone at the end of my trip, but it was nice to see that you actually can always come home.

My visit back to Ripon solidified a thought that had been floating around my mind for a couple of months. I’ve always known that I wanted to go to grad school, but I wanted to take a break after college. I intended for that to be a 3-5 year break, thinking that I’d need at least that much time to recover after spending the majority of my life in school. I found out pretty quickly after graduation that I was itching to go back. At first, I thought it might have just been nostalgia for Ripon, but the more time passed by, the more sure I was that I wanted to go back to school. Being back at Ripon and chatting with professors and students made me absolutely sure that I want to go to grad school sooner, rather than later. I still want to give myself enough time to find the right school, take the GRE, and save up some money, but I’m hoping that I’ll be headed back to school in the fall of 2015.

So the easy part was done! I decided to officially begin my search for the perfect master’s program. The difficult part about wanting to go back to school, I’ve discovered, is picking what you want to study. I’ve always had a lot of interests, and I’ve never been good at making choices. This is not an ideal combination of traits when it comes to picking out a graduate school program. Fortunately, I’ve had several mentors and friends helping me out with my search for my perfect program, and I’m sure that this will continue until I’ve officially settled on one. At this point, I’m still exploring my options and prepping for the GRE, but I’ve found some incredible programs so far. It’s still a bit far away, but I’m already excited to see what my next step in life is going to be!

When I’m not browsing the Internet for master’s programs, I’ve been doing my fair share of theatre-going. DC is a wonderful place for theatre lovers, and I’ve been sure to take advantage of that. There are tons of theatre companies all over the city, in addition to places like The Kennedy Center and the Folger Theatre. If you’re willing to go a few hours outside of the city, you can also visit the Blackfriars Theatre – which I was lucky enough to do while some folks from Ripon were there for a conference! I found myself a little starved for theatre and the arts right after I moved, so I’ve been finding all sorts of ways to get my fix. I’m even going to be helping out with costumes for a local community theatre production that will be opening soon! It’s been great finding ways to get involved with something that has always been such a big part of my life.

Looking back at the last several months, my life is a strange mix of things that have turned upside down, and things that will probably never change. I live hundreds of miles away from where I grew up, but I would still pick sweaters and pea coats over flip flops and tank tops. I can navigate public transportation better than I ever thought possible, but I still love driving on roads in the middle of the nowhere. I’ve picked up the DC lingo, but I’m still going to call it a “pop machine.” Overall, I think my first six months as a college graduate have been pretty successful, all things considered. I can hardly wait to see what exciting things the next six will bring!

Jessie M. Lillis ’13
[email protected]

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