Senior Column: Pascale Joachim

The author then. Photo provided by author

The University of Connecticut was not my first choice. As an incoming freshman, I wasn’t entirely set on what I wanted in terms of academics, but I knew I wanted a campus with a diverse student population. About 5% of UConn’s students were African American in 2019, a little bit more than that were Hispanic and slightly more than that were Asian. I weighed my options. It was far enough from home and I’d graduate with less debt. I moved into Russell Hall in August of 2019. 

I was convinced of just three things the summer I committed to UConn. One was my major: English. 

I met Inda Watrous on July 2 during orientation. I learned that she’s the faculty advisor for all incoming English majors and would offer support and guidance throughout our first year as freshmen. I shared with her that I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in and she helped me set up my first semester so that I fulfilled basic major and gen-ed requirements. I took careful notes during our brief meeting; the other thing I was sure of was that I was going to graduate on time. She commended my notetaking and I shrugged off the compliment. I was simply doing my part. 

She asked if there was anything else I wanted to discuss, and there was. The third and last thing I was certain of: I was going to get and keep my first real job. “What’re the odds of getting a job as a freshman?” I asked. She leaned back in her seat and eyed me. She told me she’d been thinking about hiring a freshman to work for the English department. To my dismay, I wasn’t hired on the spot. 

Fast forward to December of 2019. The fall semester ended and my grades were good, but my search for a holiday job was not going well. I felt discouraged; my third goal didn’t seem to be in the cards for me. I asked my mom to reach out to parents in her school to see if anyone was looking for a babysitter. I woke up on Christmas Eve with a voicemail from Watrous asking if I was still interested in a job. Her message is still saved on my phone. I started working for the English department the following January. My last day is May 5, two days before I graduate from UConn. 

I used to not believe in fate; my determination to blaze a new trail left me blind to what was already laid before me. Now? I no longer believe in coincidences. July 2, 2019 was the start of a long, winding path that will become the rest of my life. I can’t begin to imagine who I could’ve grown into if it wasn’t for Watrous, the job she trusted me with, and the people I’ve met because of it. These past years have been formative in ways I simply cannot put into words and for that, I owe the UConn’s English department everything. 

My time at UConn taught me the value of showing up for yourself. It showed me how important it is to vocalize your goals. It prepared me for what life will look like when I take off my cap and gown and drive home for the last time. And for that, I have nothing to offer but my deepest thanks.  

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