Christopher Schroeder is thankful he learned how to advocate for himself and find his true passion for biology during a long road to graduating.
Schroeder is one of more than 1,100 students eligible for fall 2021 graduation. Learn more about his time at Wichita State and what is next for the grad.
What degree did you earn?
I am receiving a degree in Biology with an emphasis in ecological, environmental and organismal studies.
What is your hometown?
I have lived all over the United States. The idea of a hometown is nebulous to me. I have lived longest in the Wichita area though.
What led you to Wichita State?
To be frank, poor life decisions. I was not a good student for a very long time (I generally feel as if that may still be true) and as such, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I attended college at Fort Hays State University to fulfill a goal, which was probably more of a societal norm or expectation than an ambition of mine. I loved biology then and still do now, but I didn’t pass that love onto studying when I was younger.
I spent a lot of time and money at Butler Community College under the guise of becoming a teacher. During this timeframe I was working for the City of Goddard as a general laborer while studying hard at night with hopes salvaging what I could of my terrible GPA. I got on solid academic footing again and grew in confidence with my job. I studied botany at FHSU, with what I gleaned, I helped improve the health of the greenery in Goddard’s parks.
During this timeframe, a nagging thought kept creeping into my head. While I was OK with the idea of becoming a teacher, I didn’t feel the drive or passion that I thought I would. With that realization, I came back to biology with a drive which was centered around my want to succeed and my love for the subject matter. I made a promise to myself that I would finish my degree no matter how hard it was for me. I got in touch with Maria in the biology department and started my college journey over again.
How are you feeling leading up to graduation?
I don’t know. I am feeling weird, introspective, disappointed and proud at the same time. This has been a long time coming, I mean I graduated high school in 2008. The people I will be graduating with were in grade school when I graduated high school. If that isn’t humbling, then I don’t know what is.
For some, college is a mundane achievement or another box to check off on their way to greatness. However, for me, college has been an uphill slog where I had to dig deep and ask myself what I wanted for myself and how that want translates into hard work. So how do I feel after approximately 13 years of fighting, struggling, working and crying? That’s hard to encapsulate, but I guess the closest I could reckon is, thankful.
I am thankful that this road is finally at the end. I am thankful that while this road is ending, it’s not the end of a journey. I am thankful to the wonderful individuals here at Wichita State who helped me when I needed help the most because I probably wouldn’t have graduated without their guidance. I am thankful to my friends and family who helped keep me sane because without them I wouldn’t have been able to keep the promise that I made to myself to graduate. It is hard to put into words how thankful I am for everyone in my life who was there for me when I needed their help. Guys, It was tough, but I did it. Thank you.
What has been your most helpful learning experience while a student at Wichita State?
I learned that life will knock you down, but to stand up and keep moving. It doesn’t get easier, but you will get stronger. This idea was reinforced every time I would have a terrible test or was particularly tired of learning about a topic that did not interest me.
What has been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been my whole entire college career. Sometimes the most challenging events in life are the battles between yourself now and where you want to be later. I’m glad that I never stopped fighting for the latter. So, did I overcome it? I’m graduating so I guess I overcame it.
What are your plans after graduation?
I’m going to keep working. I have a mortgage, bills and a family. In short, all the fun adult things that life brings now. Maybe I’ll have a nice dinner or a celebration trip to someplace that I have been a thousand times already, but for right I have no plans except to keep moving and shaking.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your time at Wichita State or your post-graduation plans?
It has not affected me really except for wearing a mask, I guess. If anything, I have been happy because I can find parking.
What advice would you give other Wichita State students?
Don’t stop. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get what you want. It doesn’t matter who is watching or criticizing you. You are your greatest advocate. Stand up, have a spine, and fight for what you want and believe in.