Three years after freshman photoshoot, seniors return to reflect, reshoot

By Sara Woelfel

Photos by Naomi Kaufman, '07, '12; Meg McCormick; and Sarah Werner, '16

Still wet behind the ears in their first weeks at Stritch, seven first-year students answered the call to participate in the Stritch Magazine "I Couldn’t Leave Home Without It” photo essay in fall 2013. They brought a favorite comfort item that connected them to home and explained their attachment to their chosen object.

Now busy seniors, balancing internships, athletics, job searches, coursework, activities and leadership roles, they managed to carve out some time in their schedules to update us on their plans for the future and, more importantly, to reflect back on their freshmen selves and how far they have come.

LERON BRIDGES

Major: Computer Science

Activities: Track (discus, shot put, javelin), bowling, internship

Future plans: Accepted a computer programming job with Accenture, a consulting firm where he interned in Chicago. Also hopes to travel internationally.

What happened to the item you couldn’t leave at home? “I’m definitely still very heavily involved with pizza rolls, but they are second to pizza now.”

What valuable lesson will you take from Stritch? “What I gained here at Stritch is a sense of community. Everybody here is incred­ible, very nice to one another and I think that’s something that allows me to go into the real world and take that with me. Now that’s what I look for when I go places: peo­ple more so than things and perks, because even with the best perks you need people to back it up, otherwise it’s meaningless.”

Any advice to that freshman you were in 2013? “Do more. If you’re doing a lot, there’s al­ways more to do, more experiences to take advantage of. It’s going to go pretty quickly and you won’t ever get those years back.”

EDUARDO DIAZ

Major: International Business (graduating in 3-1/2 years, first in his family to graduate college)

Activities: Founder and president of Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee – Stritch chapter, Judo Club, Coach for America Scores

Future plans: Plans to work in the soccer world, hopefully one day as part of a professional team.

What happened to the item you couldn’t leave at home? Still has his skateboard on campus, added his initials and a few more scrapes.

What essentials will you take from Stritch? “It’s the friendships that you make because you end up meeting people who have similar thoughts to you. Whenever you feel down, they motivate you to continue, and they remind you of your daily goals and what you want to strive for. So, the people you find at school and friend­ships you make are really important and valuable.”

Any advice to that freshman you were in 2013? “Continue being who you were. Never change. Being unique is a great quality that I think a lot of people should embrace. I already knew who I was in high school. And I’ve always kept it that way, just being myself. So whenever I say I have friends, I call them genuine friends because they love me for who I truly am.”

TOMI LADEINDE

Major: Accounting with a certificate in diversity studies

Activities: Franciscan Servant Scholars, LDRS, founding member of the Hispanic Club, orientation leader, Admissions student worker and tour guide, cross country runner, community volunteer, Multicultural Image Award 2014

Future plans: Gain experience in the public sector to comple­ment the lessons learned during her yearlong internship at Northwestern Mutual and then find an accounting position in Milwaukee.

What happened to the item you couldn’t leave at home? The blanket stitched by her aunt continues to bring her comfort and warmth.

What valuable lesson will you take from Stritch? “I’ve grown a lot in my faith and confidence. I have to be my own fearless advocate and know how to sell myself. I have learned that my differences don’t make me different, they make me unique, they give me personality, and I love it.”

Any advice to that freshman you were in 2013: “Don’t be scared to get out of your comfort zone. You’ll meet people of different back­grounds and will relate to people on another level. Also, enjoy your time. It goes by so fast. Live, work hard, get out, and don’t be afraid. There’s a whole new world out there.”

SCOTT FABIAN

Major: Math, with computer science minor

Activities: Resident assistant, men’s volleyball team captain, Residence Hall Association former president, Student Athletic Advisory Committee, Kappa Sigma founding father

Future plans: “Go home to West Hills, California, to coach and apply to teach at my old high school, Chaminade College Preparatory School.”

What happened to the item you couldn’t leave at home? “My guitar still exists! But, unfortunately, it broke over the summer so it stayed home.”

What will you take from Stritch? “My best friends. I was happy to have made great friendships during my freshman year, but I have since found my ‘soulmates,’ so to speak. I connect with them on a level that I didn't even know existed and it is really difficult to think about how life would be had I not been blessed to meet them.”

Any advice to that freshman you were in 2013? “Smile. Nothing can brighten a room or a life like a genuine smile.”

BEN BURNS

Major: Sport Management, with communications minor

Activities: Sport Management Association president; Residence Life; writer for the Odyssey; internships with ESPN radio in Duluth, Minnesota, ESPN Milwaukee, and Stritch Athletics Communications; co-creator of MySportsStop.com

Future plans: Do sports writing or radio broadcasting

What happened to the item you couldn’t leave at home? “My football card collection has grown a bit. This summer, I was thinking about selling cards to help with expenses, and I realized they are priceless to me. It’s a piece of football history.” His favorite remains the 1952 Bob Waterfield card.

What valuable lesson will you take from Stritch? “Lessons that everyone is different but that’s not a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing to have such a diverse group of people. At my high school, everybody had to be the same and had to stick to the status quo and that’s not right. You need a good mix of people.”

Any advice to that freshman you were in 2013? “Keep being yourself, for sure. It’s so funny, every year you see freshmen trying to conform and it never works. Just be inde­pendent, be yourself, get to know people.”

Revisit the Winter 2014 photo spread featuring these students as freshmen: