Reflecting on my Time at Queens University of Charlotte

At 17 years old, I had to decide where and how I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. I always knew that my parents wanted me to go to college, however this is something I truly wanted for myself as well. I’ve always enjoyed school, and I really had to think about my future at this time. In high school, I made the decision to work toward my goal of becoming a writer. When it was time to apply to college, I wanted to stay in my area, close to my family. I applied to a few different schools, but my number one choice was Queens University of Charlotte, a small private school right in the vibrant city of Charlotte in North Carolina.

I remember going back and forth on the pros and cons. I was hesitant due to the cost of this school, however it seemed like the right fit for me. It was smaller than most universities, it had the major I wanted, and I loved the area. It was also very close to home, and I felt comfortable with this. Going into it, I knew that attending Queens would be a big step for me. During campus tours and orientation and registration, I learned that there were many things that were required of Queens students. For example, each student had to complete a mock interview (which I was so nervous about) as well as two internships during their time at Queens. There was also the option of traveling abroad, which at the time I didn’t believe I would ever do (because it was just too nerve wracking to think I would be doing that without my loved ones). College is a time for people to step away from what is comfortable and to grow into the person you are meant to be. Despite my hesitations, I said yes to Queens, and it’s safe to say that I don’t regret it. I knew my future self would be proud of the decision I made.

Luckily, I had older siblings who were in/went to college before me, so I felt like I knew what to expect. Well, nothing could prepare me for the amount of work that I had to do. My freshman year was difficult to say the least. I remember crying with each new semester because of how overwhelming it felt (though once I became a junior, I did not let the stress get to me that much). It took some time, but I got used to all of the work, and although it was a lot, this is to be expected when attending college. It isn’t meant to be easy, but in the end, you feel very proud of all that you’ve accomplished.

I went into college as a journalism major, however at the end of my sophomore year, a new major was introduced: multimedia storytelling, and I felt that this was a better fit for me. I was able to take courses relating to photography, videography, journalism and writing, social media, and communication. All of this was right up my alley, and I really enjoyed many of my classes. During my first two years of college, I had a lot of general education courses to take. These weren’t always my favorite, however I understood the importance of taking them. In my last two years of college, I was able to take more courses relating to my major, which I found to be very interesting. What I love about my major is that it does not put me in a box. It has allowed me to explore different pathways within my desired field.

As I have mentioned, I was really nervous about so many of the requirements that I would eventually have to complete. At a smaller school, you are much more likely to have to participate, and I was always the quiet shy girl. I did not know if college would help me get out of my shell, but I certainly hoped it would. I also did not know just how much I would grow in my time at Queens. Through each experience, I gained more and more confidence in myself and in who I am becoming. I was a member of many group projects, which allowed me to meet new people and to learn how to work with others and to share ideas. I completed a mock interview, which taught me some helpful tips for future interviews, and it gave me more experience and practice. I completed two internships relating to my field, which gave me the experience I needed as well as some important lessons in relation to the workplace. I also did something that as a freshman, I never saw myself doing, and that was traveling abroad with my school. While I have done quite a bit of traveling abroad with my family, I had never done it alone or with people I did not really know. Well, when I was given the opportunity to go on my dream trip to France in March of 2020, I could not refuse. While I was a bit sad that I could not experience this trip with my family, they were supportive and very happy for me. Why on earth would I pass up this opportunity? I had such an amazing week in France (a group of us went to Paris and Lyon)! I will never forget the experience! It allowed me to gain more independence and confidence. Somehow, even miles away from home, I felt so comfortable walking the streets of Paris, and although I was not alone, I still had to take care of myself while I was away. This made me realize just how ready I was to get out of my comfort zone and to take some time to do something for myself without depending on others too much. I had many responsibilities, and I am proud of myself for taking such a big step; one that I never imagined I would take in my time at college.

There were many moments when I surprised myself during these past four years. I was able to find the courage to speak up at events such as the scholars luncheon, and I finally began to feel brave enough to speak up in my classes toward the end of my junior year. I found that a lot of my anxiety went out the window and was replaced with confidence in my own knowledge and experience. Being around the right people really helped as well. One of the many things I loved about college was just how accepting and kind everyone seemed to be. This was pretty different coming right out of high school, where this was not always the case. I loved that people were more mature and I think it’s because everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is experiencing similar things at similar times, like being away from family and being out on your own. While I have gotten much better with my social skills, I still would like to work on this some more, and I am hoping to get better at public speaking as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic began during my second semester of my junior year, right when I got back from France. Since then I have been learning virtually. I’m not going to lie, I have been a little upset that my final year of school had to take place on zoom, but I am glad that Charlotte has become a bit safer, and that I am able to have my graduation ceremony in person.

As my time at Queens comes to a close, I truly do feel like a completely different person walking out than I did when I first stepped onto campus. I was 18 years old when I took my first class at Queens, and now I will be gradating in two days at 21 years old. On Saturday May 8th, I will receive a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Storytelling. I am so proud of the work that I’ve done at Queens, and I cannot believe how fast these past 4 years have gone by. I remember my first day as a freshman, and now I am a graduating senior. While I am a little nervous about the future and where I will go after graduation, I believe in myself and the skills and lessons that I have learned at Queens, and for that I am grateful.

I wanted to end today’s blog post with a thank you to Queens University of Charlotte. I truly believe that this school has made me a better person overall. I feel that everything I’ve done and everything I’ve learned has helped shape me into the woman I have always dreamed of becoming. My growth does not end here. Life does not end here. While I may not be learning in a classroom anymore, I will be learning for the rest of my life; through any and all of my future experiences and endeavors. I look forward to the many life lessons ahead of me.  Thank you Queens, for all that you’ve brought to my life. I feel prepared to step into the real world with confidence, bravery, and of course, my education.

And to my 17 year old self, you were right. Thank you for being brave, and for making a choice that scared you. It was worth it, and I am so proud of you.

Graduation Day Outfit Ideas + Tips

Hey everyone! It is that time of year when seniors are preparing to graduate. I will be graduating from my university on May 8th, and I could not be more thrilled! This exciting time has inspired me to create today’s blog post! I will be sharing five different graduation outfit ideas as well as some tips for the big day!

I am aware that different schools have unique and specific rules on what to wear and not to wear for graduation, so you can modify each of these outfits depending on said rules. I will be sharing some tips and advice throughout this post that can be extremely helpful so there are no wardrobe malfunctions or issues with your graduation cap!

Before getting into the outfits, I wanted to discuss the many different graduation cap and gown colors. For my high school graduation, my cap and gown was purple. For college, it is black. I would recommend sticking to neutral colors if your cap and gown are bright colors or pastels (red, purple, green, light blue, etc.). If it is white, you would want to stick with a light colored dress underneath (anything bright and/or patterns should be avoided). If it is black like mine, you pretty much can’t go wrong! You can go with something bold and fun, or simple and pretty. If your cap and gown is black, you can even wear one of your school colors underneath. I’ve also seen people match their tassel to their dress (if the tassel is a different color from the cap and gown). I will be doing an ootd (outfit of the day) for my own graduation dress, so be on the lookout for that soon!

Let’s get into the outfits!

Outfit #1:

This first dress is very feminine and pretty! I love pastel colors, and of course I had to go with pink! Mini dresses are always a great choice for graduation day, and I love that this one is so comfortable and cute! The little flower details add such a nice touch to an otherwise simple mini dress. Since this detail is minor, it will not be seen while the gown is over it. You want to avoid dresses with big/3D details so that your gown can flow seamlessly over your outfit underneath. For the shoes, I went with a pair of short nude block heels. These are very easy to walk in and they look very stylish as well. If you are required to wear closed-toe shoes, you can always opt for a pair of closed toe heels, ballet flats, or a nice pair of loafers. Try to keep the shoes dressy, even if you do choose to wear flats. Neutral colored shoes are often best as well, however this may depend on the cap and gown color.

Outfit #2:

This next outfit is all about the midi dress. I am such a major fan of midi dresses; I feel that they are often so classy and elegant. One thing to keep in mind is that your graduation gown is most likely going to reach your calves, so I would recommend trying on your desired dress with your gown or measuring the length of both to make sure that the dress does not go past the gown.  I chose to go with navy blue this time, and once again, the dress is very comfortable and I don’t feel constrained while wearing it. There is a subtle lace design all over this dress and it also has a cutout on the back, brought together with a bow. For the shoes, I chose to wear my black block heels; these are a little taller than my nude ones. Once again, if you would like to wear flats, you absolutely can, and think about the possibility of a closed-toe shoe (if needed).

Outfit #3:

White dresses are always a very popular choice for many graduates, and it looks amazing under every cap and gown color! There are a variety of styles out there, and there are so many affordable options! This is a great choice for anyone! I chose this white crochet lace dress. It is strapless, however I would not recommend this because there is a chance that it can slip down underneath your gown, so try to go with sleeves or straps instead! This is also a midi dress, but it is on the shorter side, so it works very well! I went with the same nude heels from the first outfit to complete the look. When I tried this dress on with my cap and gown, I could definitely see why the color is a popular choice; it looked stunning!

Outfit #4:

Next, I decided to go for something bold. For any of you ladies out there who have a black cap and gown, red is a fantastic and beautiful choice! It works even better if your school colors include red, however it would look great regardless. This mini dress is flowy and fun, and it has small cutouts right above the waist. The shape of this dress is also very flattering to any body type! I chose to go with black block heels for this look. I normally do not wear bright colors too often, however wearing red is a statement and it makes anyone feel and look confident!

Outfit #5:

Lastly, I changed things up a bit and went with a romper rather than a dress! Rompers can be very comfortable while still very stylish! The one pictured here is navy blue, with a unique v-notch neckline. This is also a strapless romper, however I am simply sharing an example and I don’t think strapless is the best choice (unless you are absolutely positive that it will stay up). This romper also looks like it can be a dress, which is one thing I really like about wearing them! If you want to show off a bit more leg after stepping off of the stage, something like this may be perfect for you! With this outfit, I went with a pair of silver peep toe heels. The heel of this shoe is pretty short, and they look very chic as well.

Before you walk across that stage, remember to…

  • Bobby pin your cap to your head

When I was graduating from high school, the teachers were giving the girls bobby pins so that our caps were not slipping around or falling off during the ceremony. This was such a great hack and it worked so well! If your cap is a lighter color, you may want to stick to a lighter colored bobby pin. If your cap is a darker color, stick to the darker bobby pins.

  • Use a safety pin to keep your chords in place

 If you have received a graduation chord or chords to wear for the big day, make sure to take a safety pin and poke a small hole through each chord and pin them to your gown at the back of your neck. By doing this, it will stop your chords from sliding to one side, and they will stay even for the entire ceremony! This was another great hack I learned at my high school graduation, and I was even helping some of the other girls with this!

  • Wear comfortable shoes

If you are not used to wearing heels, I highly recommend wearing flats to your graduation. Walking in heels can take some getting used to, and you do not want to trip or fall as you walk across the stage. If you are a pro and you wear heels all the time then I say go for it, however if you even question it, I would go for flats just to be on the safer (and more comfortable) side.

  • Wear sunscreen

I know this isn’t a fashion hack, but it is so important, especially if your graduation is going to be outdoors like mine. Even if the sun is not shining, you should be applying sunscreen. You can do this before applying your makeup, and this way you can protect your skin while you’re seated and waiting for your name to be called. Remind your friends and families who are coming to support you to do the same!

  • Make your lunch/dinner reservation

Also unrelated to fashion, but still important! If you are hoping to go out to eat after your ceremony, be sure to book your table in advance. Many places will get booked very quickly due to the fact that graduation ceremonies are typically held on the weekends and that every graduate will be eating out in the area as well.

I really hope that you found these tips helpful and that these outfit ideas have inspired you in some way! Remember to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your graduation day! Everything will go well, and you will look amazing! To my fellow 2021 graduates, I am wishing you the best on your journey going forward, and congratulations!

If you are interested, you can also check out my Instagram, @sacchere14 to see my latest reel wearing each of these outfits! Until next time!