Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas graduates with a degree in media studies, a certificate in public relations and a minor in digital marketing communications. She’s gained experience in the field with an internship with UMSL Marketing and Communications. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Thomas)

By Sarah Thomas

For as long as I can remember, I have kept a personal journal, some of the entries dating back to elementary school. My journals have been a place to document, reflect and plan. I’ve always enjoyed being able to transport myself back to a different era of my life and remember the feelings, thoughts and goals I had at the time.

An entry I wrote in 12th grade, as I was getting ready to graduate from high school reads: “Goals: 1. Choose a major. 2. Graduate from college. 3. Launch a career.”

Little did I know, the University of Missouri–St. Louis would be the launchpad for all of those goals.

When I started my college career at St. Louis Community College, I had no idea where I would end up next. After thorough research, I chose UMSL for its affordable tuition and transfer credits.

UMSL allowed me to choose a major that I could tailor to the fields I was interested in exploring. As a media studies major at UMSL, I centered my studies around public relations, marketing and communications by choosing to pursue a certificate in public relations and a minor in digital marketing communications.

A lot more came along with choosing a major, such as joining clubs on campus, classes with valuable hands-on experience, developing friendships and connecting with professors.

I have also been fortunate enough to gain valuable work experience with an internship in the University Marketing and Communications department through the Next Step Internship Program. There I’ve have had the opportunity to create content for the UMSL Instagram account and write for UMSL Daily.

Fast forward to my final year of college in March 2020 and, in my journal, you will find what I titled “diaries of a quarantined gal,” the journal entries of a worried, soon-to-be-graduate navigating life as a virtual student and intern.

Quarantine and virtual learning began with a lot of stress and uncertainty: the unknown of how long it would last, a new daily life completely at home, and navigating both class and work in a virtual format.

But if the pandemic taught me anything, it’s how to find joy in even the toughest of situations and to be grateful for what I have.

I learned to connect with others in a virtual format and found more time to connect with my friends and family by writing letters and hosting Zoom celebrations for events we would usually hold in person.

The new lack of structure in my life allowed me to creatively craft a new daily routine that would benefit my health and productivity without the stress of having to be at a number of different places throughout the day.

One entry from my journal highlighted the perks of creating an at-home workspace: pajama pants were acceptable, homemade treats and working close to family.

I turned what would normally be my commute time into time to do things that I love such as bake, read and thoroughly document quarantine endeavors in my journal.

The pandemic may have taken away a few pieces of my final year at UMSL, but it certainly hasn’t taken away the valuable memories, experience and lasting connections I have made over the course of my time as a student.

As I rewrite my goals after graduation, I have reflected back on my time as a college student and I can confidently say I have emerged more passionate, more confident and ready to launch a career.

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