Of the 93 undergraduate students who graduated from Drake University this past December, many chose to stay in the Des Moines area after commencement. More specifically, several graduates decided to stay around the Drake area.
One such graduate, digital media production major Kayla Hartman, said she decided to keep living near Drake for a mix of practical and personal reasons.
“My apartment lease continued, so I figured I might as well stay here,” she said. “And all my friends are here, so why not stay?”
Hartman said she never really considered moving back to her hometown of Urbandale.
“I think I’ve just built such a strong community and support system here that going home would’ve been like leaving my second family…almost like going back to high school,” Hartman said.
Another graduate, theater major Evan Shackletter, shared a similar sentiment toward his hometown of Des Plaines, Illinois.
“I did briefly consider moving home right away, but I decided since most of my friends are in Des Moines and I have an apartment, I might as well stay for the remainder of the semester,” he said.
Shackletter did say, however, that staying in Des Moines was “absolutely not a priority” in the long term. He is currently preparing to accept a job in education at a school closer to his hometown after the semester is over.
“I only stayed for my friends and my apartment and will be leaving promptly when my lease is up,” Shackletter said.
Hartman, on the other hand, hopes to find a job that will keep her near Des Moines in the long term. Although she has not found a specific job to replace her current on-campus internship at St. Catherine of Siena student center, she is focusing on finding positions that would keep her near the Drake community.
“There are a lot of good reasons to stay and no reasons I want to leave,” Hartman said. “Having that support system is such a beautiful gift I have here, and even though my hometown is like 20 minutes away, it would be tough to go back.”
Although both graduates have stayed mostly for their friends, they both expressed great relief to be done with the actual student aspect of Drake.
“It is very exciting and strange to be done with school, although my stress level has not quite declined yet, though I have nothing to do and I have a job lined up already,” Shackletter said.
Hartman, who is still job searching, said she feels grateful for this free semester, as it has taken the pressure off finding her perfect “next step.”
“I’m able to take the time and not feel so scatter-brained in trying to take full time classes and find a job all at once,” she said.
Hartman did say, however, that she missed the general sense of community she felt in her classes and in general as a Drake student. At the moment – since she is still involved at Drake through her internship, her friends and athletic games – she said she feels like she’s a “half-student.”
“I think that’s just a natural sadness thing when you graduate,” she said. “Luckily, I am blessed to still have a strong community of friends.”