Then and now: Seniors reflect on years at Iowa State and look ahead to the future

Mumme then, a freshman during move-in, and now, a married senior studying aerospace engineering.

Sierra Hoeger

Picture this. You hear the sirens blare across Jack Trice Stadium as you’re sitting in the student section for the last home game of the season. Surrounded by friends, the moment is bittersweet. 

Buying your last blue book as you gear up for your last finals week or preparing to sit in a lecture hall, filling in standardized test bubbles and taking a timed test for the last time, however, might be relieving rather than bittersweet. 

Senior year brings with it lots of lasts. This includes final football games, a final finals week, a final homecoming week and a final time sitting in a lecture hall learning about microorganisms or how to successfully lead a classroom. 

Several seniors have shared what they hope their final year will bring and plans for the future, post Iowa State. 

For Ryan Whitener, his final time ordering his weekly meal at Panda Express inside the Memorial Union might be a bittersweet moment. 

“Every Friday I go to Panda to treat myself for surviving the week; My order is kind of complicated,” Whitener said. 

While Panda Express can be found in ultimately any U.S. state you travel to, snow during the wintertime cannot. 

“I’m from Huntsville, Alabama, I don’t get snow,” Whitener said. “I might get an inch of snow per year, and so having snow up to my knees, I could actually go play in the snow and build a snowman,” Whitener said about one of his favorite memories at Iowa State, which also includes a midnight snowball fight on Central Campus. “That was just crazy to me because I had never been in that much snow.”

Post-graduation, Whitener will return to Redstone Arsenal, located in Huntsville, Alabama. Now an employee after interning for them in the past, he will be working within a research and development company that works on missile defense systems. 

Another senior will have a more symbolic finish at Iowa State.

“I had this thing where as a freshman I’d walk through the Campanile, and when I graduate I’ll walk back through it, kind of symbolizing coming to Iowa State, then leaving Iowa State. That was something my mother gave me the idea for,” said senior Dillyn Mumme. 

Aside from the Campanile, Dillyn also hopes to avoid the Zodiac yet again for his fifth year on campus. 

Mumme’s favorite memories here at Iowa State center around his time here and what he wants to do post-graduation. His involvement within the greek community and homecoming week tops them all, especially after he put so much effort into homecoming and eventually won.

“Getting the phone call that I was going to be going to NASA Johnson Space Center, I think that was the second highlight of my time here at Iowa State,” Mumme said. 

As of right now, Mumme is awaiting a phone call that will promise his potential employment at the Johnson Space Center. 

For senior Austin Graber, it’s hard to narrow it down to one specific memory that he considers his favorite from his time here at Iowa State. Aside from winning student body presidency and sliding around campus during the “Ice Storm 2k17”, as he called it, sports memories come out on top. 

“Getting to orient all the new students and playing basketball with them was so much fun during orientation because students don’t really enjoy the sessions or the boring stuff,” Graber said about being a Cyclone Aide. “But they do enjoy playing basketball, and getting to connect with them on that level was amazing.” 

Graber also added that while he was sick during the championship game, winning an intramural basketball tournament and being the proud owner of a commemorative t-shirt is a significant memory as well. 

“The South Dakota State game might be my biggest memory. So last year, it was the first game, and it got rained out. But students did not leave. We sat there. I think that’s my number one memory,” Graber said, adding that he enjoys camping out before football games to ensure a front row spot, and making it a day-long event. “It was so cool that our spirit was so high and we were tossing frisbees around, the boxes, we were yelling “upper deck,” starting chants. That was wild because it was downpouring and people don’t even care. That’s a good memory. That’s up there.”

Graber started at Iowa State as an open-option major, dabbling in everything from choir to political science, but eventually deciding to major in business economics. His curiosity is what keeps him going, and he trys to absorb everything Iowa State has to offer. 

“Making sure that I’m not taking Iowa State for granted is what I’m excited for,” Graber said about going into his senior year. 

As he’s preparing to say goodbye to campus life, senior Greg Schaub is bidding a farewell to the state of Iowa as a whole, hoping to do everything he can before leaving both campus and the state. 

However, his favorite memories with Iowa State are not the ones on campus, but rather the ones where his class traveled to cities within the United States.

“It’s nice to learn on campus, but when we actually go to these places and learn it’s a lot easier to experience the space and learn about it,” Schaub said. “In our studios it’s usually about 16-18 people and we get really close because we do a lot of things together, so it’s always nice to go explore with your friends and see a new place.”

Post-graduation, Schaub hopes to move to a big city, get his license in architecture and further his career. 

Each senior had similar responses when asked to share their favorite memory from their time at Iowa State: wide eyes, sighs followed by wide grins and head scratches while trying to narrow it down to a couple of good ones that represent their experience as a whole. 

They also had similar responses when asked to give advice to non-seniors. 

“I have fear of missing out for sure, like I need to be places,” Graber said. “That’s definitely been a big thing. Have fun with it. I know that’s an easy thing to say, but I feel like when I look back at Iowa State I’m not gonna look back and say ‘I was so stressed about this one specific test or this one specific class.’ I mean it’s a grind, but I think I’m gonna look back on the memories I’ve made and the people I’ve met and I think that’s my advice, like just do it. And just like it’s the little things. Memories are made every night and every day and every hour. Just love it.”

Focusing on other aspects of college, such as joining clubs, attending campus events, or simply hanging out with friends is important, and taking time to relax when you feel like the constant chaos of classes are getting to you seems to be a common theme within the tidbits of advice. 

“Do your best, but don’t stress out too much because I remember when I first came to ISU I was stressed out about everything,” Schaub said. “Things just work out in the end; try your best, but also take time to relax and don’t worry about everything. If someone doesn’t like you that’s okay because there’s plenty of other people who will.”

Meeting new people at Iowa State is what you make it, and it can help shape your experiences on campus as well. 

“College is about two things from what I understand about it; It’s about choices and relationships,” Whitener said. “Whenever you meet someone you have the choice: do you want to foster a relationship with that person; are you trying to make a new friend, a new study partner, a new companion, like anything. And investing in other people ultimately benefits yourself, because you learn so much from other people.

“At college we have such a diverse gathering of people from all over the world, people from all walks of life, and the ability to interface with that many people and grow yourself is so huge. So make as many friends as you can. Everyone here is so incredible and has so many different stories.”