Life At Ripon – Kaitlyn Welzen ’15

Chapter 1: Who I Am Now

[Editor’s Note: Kaitlyn Welzen ’15, Rachel Detrie ’15, and Clarence Sanon ’15 are writing rotating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their senior year experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life At Ripon!]

My name is Kaitlyn Welzen, and I am a Spanish and Environmental Studies double-major with a sociology minor. My hometown is Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, but after spending the past three years here, Ripon has really become a second home to me. I spend my free time outdoors hiking or gardening, or inside reading or listening to music. As a student and working a part-time job, there is not always a lot of leisure time, but I find the time to relax when I can. As a self-proclaimed “environmentalist,” I am involved in on-campus efforts to be more environmentally sustainable.

During the school year, I work for Sodexo on campus as a kitchen worker and as their sustainability intern. Additionally, I volunteer at one of the local charter schools, Quest Elementary, teaching Spanish classes once a week. In terms of extracurricular involvement, I am the president of E.G.O.R (the Environmental Group of Ripon) and through that club, I work in the E.G.O.R. garden. I am currently living on campus for the summer to work in the Sodexo kitchen, manage the E.G.O.R. garden, and continue to work on the hoop house (a type of greenhouse) that I am building as part of one of President Messitte’s “14 for ’14” grant projects.

I am looking forward to an interesting year with senior seminar classes and final projects to complete my majors. For my environmental studies senior seminar, I need to decide on a project to work on throughout the semester. For my sustainability internship, I hope to finish up the hoop house this fall and to start using some of the produce grown there in food served in the Commons. Beyond classes and work, there are projects to continue with E.G.O.R. in the future, such as the Terracycle program and the bee hives.

A question that people keep asking me, and I am sure most seniors have heard it as well, is: “What are you going to do after you graduate?” or some form of that question. My answer to that so far has been that I do not know. I have many ideas of what I could do, what I might like to do, and things that I do not think I would enjoy. However, I am open to other possibilities and it feels likely to me that I will find a job that I may not have anticipated before I find it. For that reason, I know that I have one more year of school to continue learning and growing as a person before I need to make those kinds of long-term decisions.

When I started Ripon almost three years ago, I was undecided in my major and had almost no concrete plans for the future. Since then, I have stumbled into two majors and a minor that I truly enjoy and think will benefit me in the future. Also in that time, I spent a semester studying in Alicante, Spain where I spent five months speaking Spanish and learning an entirely new way of life. My most recent traveling was to Costa Rica for the In-Focus term this past spring, and there I spoke Spanish while I learned about the Costa Rican environment and culture.

This is who I am now, but when I graduate in May, I will be a slightly different person. Being at Ripon College has changed who I am and I expect to continue developing that person over the next year. In some ways, I feel that I could join the workforce today and be prepared for it; but on the other hand, I am glad to have one more year of school to pursue knowledge and avoid the “real world” for a little while longer.

Kaitlyn Welzen ’15

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