Lydia VanDeRiet’s high school experience may be coming to a close, but the doors of her academics have been substantially opened

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Lydia VanDeRiet

Senior Lydia VanDeRiet is the Photography Editor for The Central Trend

Senior Lydia VanDeRiet’s academic journey isn’t coming to a halt after leaving high school; instead, she’s immersing herself in a totally different opportunity for success.

At the start of Lydia’s senior year, she was narrowing down colleges that she wanted to attend, and from the start, Loyola University of Chicago was close to the top of her list. With Chicago serving as a special destination spot for her and her family from a young age, Loyola seemed like the perfect fit.

“I’ve gone to Chicago several times growing up,” Lydia said. “I’ve always really liked it. Chicago doesn’t have a deep meaning for me, but I just love being there, and I think it’s nice that I’m familiar with the area. I wouldn’t want to go to a small college town because of the chance to live in a big city, so I am glad for that familiarity.”

Lydia justifies her choice by reasoning with the distance of her dream school from her home. Loyola is a little over 180 miles from Grand Rapids, but this seems like the perfect distance for Lydia. While claiming she doesn’t want to be too far from home, she does value her new independence in moving to another state.

Along with her family, Lydia will be leaving her room and most belongings behind in her big move; she wants to start fresh in her dorm room and decorate it in a way that’s completely her own.

“I think I’ll be sad to leave some of my things behind,” Lydia said. “I do think that it will be nice to be able to refine the stuff that I have; after living in the same room for seventeen years you gather a lot of stuff. I want to manage it and not have a cluttered space in my dorm room. I want to make it cozy and more of my own.”

Lydia has been watching Loyola’s Facebook page for fellow incoming freshmen that she could possibly dorm with for her first year in college, but she isn’t opposed to being thrown in with someone she’s never met before.

“Loyola has a few options for living with other people, so I’ll have someone to share a dorm with,” Lydia said. “If I don’t find anyone through Loyola’s Facebook page, I wouldn’t mind going in blind. Everyone will fill out a questionnaire so you can get paired with someone who can match you personality-wise.”

Lydia isn’t scared to get to know someone new, especially knowing Loyola will do a good job of matching her with someone who may have similar interests or classes, so this experience will hopefully invite Lydia to meet a whole new group of people.

It will be great because Chicago is such a great place to spend time with friends while exploring downtown. Both aspects, academic and [social], are really exciting.”

— Lydia VanDeRiet

“I hope that my current friends and I will stay close and in contact,” Lydia said. “Obviously we’re all going our separate ways and will make new friends, but I hope we’ll get together in the summers and call each other. I want to stay close with them the best that I can but I am also excited to become close with my roommate and the people that I’ll see a lot in clubs that I’ll sign up for.”

Going into a situation unlike any other that Lydia has ever experienced, she keeps one word at the forefront of her mind to get her through it all: hope. While she will work hard for everything she wishes to achieve, she also will be willing to take a step back and let the pieces fall into place. For Lydia, the aspects of her academic future are close in value to her personal, social excitements for this upcoming year. 

“I’m excited to explore my major,” Lydia said, “because it’s something that I’m really interested in, but I’m also looking forward to being in the city and meeting new people. It will be great because Chicago is such a great place to spend time with friends while exploring downtown. Both aspects, academic and [social], are really exciting.”

While Lydia is living through her last month of high school, she takes all the experiences she’s gathered previously to set goals for herself for the next major steps in her life. College is all about learning, but also having fun and trying new things to figure out who you are as a person.

“My personal goal for my first year in college is to meet a lot of people,” Lydia said. “I want to have a lot of fun and really take advantage of the city because it has so much to offer. I hope I won’t be studying the whole time and that I can have some fun.”