Next to answer our exit interview style “10 Questions” is recent graduate Cayden Berkmoyer. Cayden wrote a preface to his answers (a true COMS major… he has a lot to say!).
“Preface: It is difficult to succinctly summarize such a significant segment of one’s life to key words and phrases without writing several blue books’ worth of text. Upon initially perusing these questions, I immediately thought to myself, ‘Well, I guess I’m writing one last ten-page essay!”’ I do not take these questions lightly, as I think there is the potential application of my responses to others’ lives as advice and guidance. However, for the sake of the readers’ eyes and saving space on the Internet for more cats, I will attempt to keep my responses as concise as conceivably possible.
Cayden, relaxing because he recently graduated
#1: What is your favorite memory from USF?
Cayden: “Part of me wants to say that graduation was my favorite memory from USF, but honestly I do not remember all that much of the ceremony itself. At that point I was in such a fugue that I was only physically present while my mind was off pondering the infinite possibilities of post-grad life.
It is difficult to choose just one memory over the past three-and-a-half years at USF, and as someone who has a difficult enough time deciding what to make for dinner, this is particularly trying.
One of my favorite memories is having deep existential, philosophical conversations with fellow Communication Studies major, Kylie Li, where we would often end up reveling in how applicable our studies were to real life. Discussions of the day’s issues would turn to principles we had just learned about in class that very day which connected to a class we had taken last year, which would incorporate everything from rhetorical strategies and psychological principles to qualities of communicative interactions and greater unsolved existential questions.”
#2: What are you most proud of during your college career?
Cayden: “I feel it is difficult to answer this question without sounding at least a little pretentious, but I will do my best. I have been looking forward to graduating from university legitimately since I was five years old, after my mother had to bribe me into taking a kindergarten entrance exam with an action figure of Dennis Nedry (the obese computer programmer from Jurassic Park). I initially did not plan on going to college, but knew deep down (i.e. by my parent’s imploring) that it would ultimately benefit me in the long run. Sixteen years post-Dennis Nedry, here I am: on the other side.
So what am I most proud of? Making it through college. To all those still in college—those just starting, those in the midst of their academic careers, and those about to finish—do not doubt for a moment that you are working towards something amazing. If you make it through college, congrats, you’re pretty awesome.”
#3: What will you miss most about college?
Cayden: “As nerdy as it may sound (and I know this is going to sound quite nerdy), I am going to miss learning. Though the setup of the various academic institutions that I have been involved with may not have agreed with me one hundred percent of the time, I do love learning something new. I hope to never lose that yearning to continually develop my mind through consistently challenging myself in what I learn. It may not seem like it at times in college, but every course you take does add something to your person. What you take away from college is up to you.
I’ve never been one much for school (see the aforementioned incident of having to be bribed into kindergarten, among a plethora of other examples that I do not have time to get into), but college, particularly the Communication Studies department, peaked my thirst for furthering my knowledge. You may not immediately find your passion in one field in college, but keep at it, there is something out there for you, whether in academia or in a small surf shop on the Pacific coast. My advice to current students is to never give up on learning. Yes, I sound like every instructor you have ever been taught by, but there’s a reason for that. Learning—inside and outside the classroom—not only serves to make you a more eloquent and erudite person, but also makes you a more well-rounded person. Go outside of your immediate interests and comfort zones, you will see that whatever you pursue has more in common with your primary interests than you might think.”
#4: What was your favorite thing about being a Communication Studies major?
Cayden: “I initially picked the Communication Studies major because I did not know what else to choose. My major selection shifted from undecided to Psychology (too specific) to Sociology (too broad) to undecided again, then finally to Communication Studies (just right). I was excited and surprised to find that Communication Studies was a magical amalgamation of rhetoric, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, language, symbology, and so much more. As I delved deeper into the major, I realized just how awesome (for lack of a better word) my choice was. Communication Studies prepares you for any situation you might face in life, save having to perform open-hear surgery on a moose on a train careening off a cliff while trying to close a business deal with your partner in Islamabad. Even then, I am confident your mind would turn to some principle you had picked up in one of your COMS courses.
Non-sequiturs aside, the professors within the department have proved time and time again that they truly care about their students’ edification and development as individuals. Never have I encountered such an interesting and involved group of souls dedicated to their work. Not just professors, if I may employ such a blunt use of ‘just,’ the instructors of the Communication Studies department are scholars in their respective fields of study and bring their passions and expertise to the table, making each course a unique and gratifying experience. And I am saying this as a graduate, so you know I’m not just kissing ass to get a better grade (although Professor Doohan still has not entered her grades yet…).” [Oh yes I have!] “In all seriousness, I could not imagine having picked a better major with a more broad and applicable realm of study and more enthusiastic and engaging professors.
People have frequently asked me, ‘So… what exactly is Communication Studies?,’ and I often had difficulty deciding where to begin, even after my first few semesters. After several minutes of me attempting to explain the interconnectedness of rhetoric, sociology, language, symbols, etc… and how COMS links them together, I would be met with blank expressions of befuddlement. Like any major, you get out of COMS what you put into it. The same goes for Business, Psychology, Chemistry, and the rest. You can skate by and get passing grades and get your degree, but if you truly embrace this amazing area of study and take what you are learning to heart, you will have a completely different experience that if you take the former route. It is an amazing course of study if you take the time to acknowledge and appreciate it.”
#5: What, if anything, would you do differently if you were starting your college career over again?
Cayden: “Departing from my previous direction of nerdiness and consumption in school, I will admit that if I could do one thing differently I would not have focused so much on academics. USF (as the name suggests) is in San Francisco, arguably one of the greatest cities on earth. One of the most diverse and busy centers of culture, commerce, and entertainment, I urge my fellow Dons to find that just-right balance of work and play. Take advantage of the fact that you are in college, and I mean that in two main ways.
First, make the most of the time you have in this city as a college student to enjoy all of the amazing facets of San Francisco. After all, you are only eighteen, nineteen, twenty, etc… once, so make the most of it! As someone who spent his first year of college in a town of ten-thousand at a school of under two-thousand, twenty minutes away from any semblance of a metropolitan area, if it ever seems like there is nothing to do—trust me—there is something. There is ne’er a dull moment in the city if you know where to look, so do it up right.
That being said, I turn towards the second signification of my prior statement. You are only in college for a brief period (believe me, it flies by as much as it crawls), so in theme with the responses to the preceding questions, revel in the fact that these are the years that you can study whatever your like. Random class that you think you might be interested in? Take it. Doesn’t add anything to your major or CORE classes? TAKE IT. You can be exposed to as much learning as you choose, so make the most of this time that you can guide the course of your education and development of your person.”
#6: What advice do you have for students in their first or second year of college?
Cayden: “If it hasn’t been made apparent already, much of this is already directed at current students as a guide of sorts (if you choose to follow this advice). However, if I had to offer one piece of advice (and once again I lament sounding like every other person offering advice who has come before me), do not listen to what anyone else has to say. You may heed what your peers or elders have to tell you, but it does not mean a thing if you can’t embody what they say yourself. Yes, it’s probably good advice, but you need to figure it out yourself. Often the best advice comes from one’s own experience. An example I am oft to cite is telling a small child not to touch something because it is hot. Let’s say a stove for example. Now certainly the kid knows what hot means and knows what “Do not touch” means. In order to truly understand the situation, however, (as is often the case) the child reaches out and touches the hot stove anyways.
By no means am I comparing new students to children; I’m not that pompous. What I mean by this metaphor is that you need to figure it out yourself. You can listen to countless people offering you an infinitely broad spectrum of advice that follows directly from their own experience. This advice will apply more or less to your life accordingly to your own experience thus far, but ultimately you are at a time in your life when you’re figuring out yourself. So disregard everything I’ve just told you and go do you.”
#7: What are you most excited about as you begin this next phase of life after graduation?
Cayden: “In a word: Life. It seems like an eternity that I have been waiting for the opportunity to blaze my own path and forge my destiny. And to answer that question that just popped into your head, yes, I do liken myself to an archetypal character. Specifically Conan the Barbarian. As I am not even a month into post-grad life, I am still reeling at my newfound freedom to do whatever I want. ‘What’s that you say?,’ you say, ‘Anything you want?’
Equipped with the education you will hopefully receive from your time at USF as a COMS (or any other major [but particularly COMS]) student, I firmly believe that you have the ability to do whatever you want in life (within reason, sorry to those who wanted to grow up to become a time-travelling astronaut Japanese pop star like me). The capacity of what you can accomplish is only as limited as your dreams (with the exception of being a time-travelling astronaut Japanese pop star).”
#8: What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Cayden: “In five years I hope to be dangling my feet in my grape-Jello filled swimming pool sipping White Russians and enjoying life as a time-travelling astronaut Japanese pop star. In all seriousness, though, all I can hope for is to be doing well enough and have landed on my feet after the immanent global economic collapse. Personally, I’m stocking up on water, gasoline, football shoulder pads, and black spray paint in preparation of the world going Road Warrior.”
#9: How are you different now than when you first started at USF?
Cayden: “What a question. I think the form of this answer is more suited for interpretive dance, but I guess text will have to do. I came to USF a boy. I left a man. My time at USF has been a chrysalis, which on December 16th, I emerged from as a glorious graduate butterfly. Though I would like to say I completely changed, I think my core essence of my person has remained relatively the same, but I find myself more self-assured and aware. The people whom I have met here and the experiences I have had are many and have affected the course of my life and my self-development in innumerable unseen ways. I hardly remember the person I was entering this school, in a sense, but know I like the person who is leaving. I think mostly I have a better sense of self-conceptualization and self-understanding, unequivocally born from the lifelong friends I have made here. So thanks for that, USF.”
#10: What are three words that describe your current feelings about graduating?
Cayden: “Quixotic. Triumphant. AWWWWWWWWWWWWWYEEEEEEEEAAAAAABUDDY.”
Congratulations, Cayden, on your graduation! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to hear where you end up! Thanks for sharing your advice!