A Bittersweet End

By: Casey Tiernan, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

If I can describe my time in college with one word, it would be bittersweet. I have never been so ready to graduate but also nervous for what the future holds for me. I have had quite the journey over the past five years in college.

I started my journey in 2018 at Merrimack College as a rehabilitation major with a dream to pursue physical therapy. I did well in classes and loved shadowing physical therapists. However, by early sophomore year, I had a tough time mentally as I found out my mom had cancer and my parents separated soon after. I moved home to commute to school and take care of my mom because she was and still is my best friend. I realized I did not have many friends and wasn’t in love with the major as much as I thought I was. By mid-sophomore year, Covid-19 hit and I realized over my quarantine I was not happy there and wanted to transfer to UMass Lowell. I applied and got in as an exercise science major. I soon discovered once I started here, I had a hard time with the science courses over Zoom. I started to really struggle and got super defeated within myself. I decided to take a leap and switch my major to nutrition, and instantly found it was not for me. As a junior, I switched into Public Health and realized this was the path for me. I started on the health sciences pathway but switched to the community health pathway. After this, I found out I would not graduate in 2022 like expected which really got to my head. This was due various factors such as covid, transferring schools, and switching majors numerous times. I had to tell myself, “I am where I am meant to be.” I decided to focus hard on my studies and not worry about my graduation year. I was happy with my major and I knew I would get to the end goal.

Fast forward to today. I am currently a month away from my bachelor’s graduation, FINALLY. I honestly always loved going to school since I was a kid, but it is a bittersweet feeling to say I finally did it. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom. Throughout my entire college journey from all my struggles and successes, she was there. She attended every award ceremony, every choir concert, and every sports game. She pushed me to always try my hardest (without pushing myself too hard). I cannot wait to walk the stage next month and have my mom see how far I have come.

Although I am graduating, this fall, I will be starting my Master’s in public health to expand my knowledge and skills. I look forward to this next chapter in my life!

If I can give any advice for students: remember, it is okay to change your major and not be on the same path as you were when you started college. Everyone is destined for their own path, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to! Don’t get discouraged if you struggle, it’s how you take that struggle and overcome it that matters most.