The Character Development of Eren Yeager

by Jessica Wang

The young warrior craves freedom, but at what cost?

Caution: This article contains spoilers for those who have not seen the anime.

“Attack on Titan” was the most popular show in the USA from January 31 to February 6, 2021 (Northern Star), after the first half of its season 4 aired. Now that season 4 is coming to an end, let’s evaluate the main protagonist, Eren Yeager, and his character development as it plays a vital role in what makes this a good story.

Going back to season 1 when Eren was a young boy (and before the colossal titan appeared), Eren was angry that people did not try to do anything about the titans roaming outside of the walls. To him, living inside these walls was no safer than living as livestock, cowering in an enclosed space, unable to go out. Eren wanted to be free and join the scouts because they represented the wings of freedom. They were able to go outside the 

walls. He and his childhood friend Armin would talk about life outside of the walls after learning more about it through Armin’s grandfather’s book. A

fter seeing his mom and the people of his hometown get eaten by titans, it triggered his ambition to “kill every last one of them,” With that, he, Armin, and another childhood friend Mikasa, enlisted to train in the military. It was during their first battle with the titans that it was shown Eren was not one to betray his friends as he risked his life to save Armin and did the same for Mikasa. After the battle, all three became scouts.

In season 4, most of the mystery about where the titans came from and their origins are revealed. Eren now holds more power, makes better strategic plans, and understands humankind more than before. Despite this, Eren’s desire for freedom has never changed. During his time wandering, reflecting on his father’s memory with his brother Zeke, Eren commented that he has always hated people who took his freedom away and would kill them without a second thought if they did. But as a result of the curse of Ymir, which shortens his life, Eren’s new wish is for his friends to be free. Knowing that people outside the walls want to get rid of the people on Paradis, who are the people inside the walls, Eren’s plan changed from wanting to kill titans to using titans to kill everyone outside of Paradis to protect his friends and the place he grew up. By doing this he can free his friends from the hate and racism of being thought of as the Devils of Paradis. Thus it’s inevitable that Eren is still loyal to his friends, and he is the same person he was from the start, and always has been.

About Jessica Wang

Jessica Wang is a first year business student at Bradley University. Born in New York and currently living in Peoria, she is a lover of making impactful storytelling, drawing, exploring Peoria, playing piano, and eating sushi. She has participated in activities like freshflim and has over 200 hours of volunteer work.

Art by Qaasaani Little

Qaasaani Little is a freshman at Richwoods High School. Little is a member of Student Leadership Team and Student Council. She has loved art for as long as she can remember, including painting and drawing. Little’s artwork is for sale. She also loves animals, after school activities, and is inspired by her mom for always pushing her to do my best. 

Four Famous Choreographers and Their Influence on the World of Dance

by Anna Gross

A brief overview of notable choreographers, their inspirations, and their legacies.

The art of choreography has long since had a role in telling stories through movement in shows and recitals. These four famous choreographers have made their mark on today’s world of dance. Their stories need telling.

Bob Fosse

You may have heard of Bob Fosse, the choreographer known for his bowler hat and obsession with jazz hands. Inspiration for his iconic style came from the dark, provocative Vaudeville acts he performed. Fosse was also a writer and director whose works spanned film and stage. He won nine Tony Awards, including best choreography for the first two Broadway shows he choreographed. Some of his Broadway notables included The Pajama Game, Redhead, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Sweet Charity, Cabaret, and Pippin. Fosse also wrote the script for Chicago, one of the longest running shows on Broadway. Although Bob Fosse has been dead for 25 years, choreographers still use his style and type of dance now referred to as just “Fosse.” Next time you see dancers on-stage wearing hats and gloves and carrying canes, you’ll know who inspired them.

Michael Bennett

        Unlike Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett wasn’t known for creating a specific style of dance, but his choreography is extremely well-known among theater lovers everywhere. His choreography is said to involve dance influenced by the performers. Bennett dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to join a tour of West Side Story. He began dancing on Broadway in 1961, and soon shifted to choreographing and directing. He choreographed the hit Promises, Promises, and co-directed Sondheim’s Company and Follies. Michael Bennett directed and co-choreographed A Chorus Line, which was the longest running show on Broadway with 6,137 performances before Cats in 1997. A Chorus Line shone a light on the frequently forgotten ensemble behind every show, and told the stories of desperate actors needing work. Unfortunately, this brilliant creative was forced to abandon some of his last works before dying from AIDS at age 44. Michael Bennett’s choreography is perhaps some of the most well-known amongst musical theater dancers. Give any theater kid a last four count of eight, and they will most likely break into his notorious choreography from A Chorus Line.

Martha Graham

        Dancers who felt bound to the restrictiveness of ballet turned to modern dance, which was made popular by Martha Graham. Her style was influenced by the contraction and release of breath and was a more weighted form of dance in comparison to ballet. Often called the “Picasso of Dance,” and the “Mother of Modern,” Graham’s pieces were inspired by the American frontier, Native Americans, Greek mythology, and often involved important historical and mythological women. One of her most famous pieces, The Chronicle, was influenced by the Wall Street Crash, the Great Depression, and the Spanish Civil War. She was the first dancer to perform at the White House and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976. The Martha Graham Dance Company, established in 1926, has two locations in New York City and continues to teach the Graham Technique today.

Katherine Dunham

        Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Katherine Dunham opened her first private dance studio for African American children while in high school. She went on to study at the University of Chicago, seeking to fuse dance with anthropology. During her time as a student, Dunham established the dance company Ballet Negre, one of the first black ballet companies in the U.S. She then completed her thesis in the Caribbean, focusing on dance forms created from the African diaspora. Choosing performance over continued education, Dunham worked on projects in New York City, Chicago, and Cincinnati. In 1948, Dunham and her dance company began performing outside the United States, appearing in over 30 countries. Katherine Dunham opened several dance studios, served as an artist in residence at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and was appointed a cultural ambassador to Senegal, West Africa by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Her work to unearth the beauty and power of African American dance forms and share them with the world is still recognized to this day.

The choreography and styles of Bob Fosse, Micheal Bennett, Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham are still used to create new pieces today. Check out their work below!

Rockettes “All That Jazz” Fosse Dance Tribute

“A Chorus Line Opening/I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line at The 5th Avenue Theatre

“Steps in the Street’ from ‘Chronicle’ by Martha Graham

Katherine Dunham – Carnival of Rhythm, 1941

About Anna Gross

Anna Gross is a Sophomore in the Pre-IB program at Richwoods High School. She is involved in Student Council, Student Leadership Team, speech, tennis, and Spanish Club. Outside of school she loves to travel, bake, and perform as a singer, dancer, and actress!

Art by Terri Silva

Terri Silva is a 20-year-old sophomore at Bradley University pursuing a major in Television Arts with a minor in Interdisciplinary Film Studies. For Silva, art is a hobby in addition to a potential career, and she takes it very seriously. Silva thrives when she tells stories in all forms: drawings, films, writings, and more. Silva thinks of herself as a creative mind that wants to share ideas with others, while also taking in what they have to offer as well.

My Green Teacher

by Rabiah Na’Allah

Discover a few powerful reminders from plants that grow alongside us. 

Who knew something without a chalkboard and a grade book could be a teacher?

I just turned 20 and I feel like I should be doing more. I have this anxiety and dread that time is escaping me. I’m looking around the bedroom I grew up in, sleeping in the same bed I did when I was in 2nd grade. Memories of my past exist so clearly in my brain that I must remind myself I’m not that little girl anymore. Where did all the time go? 

For now, I turn to the little wooden table beside my bed. This table holds my three plants: basil leaves, pothos, and something pretty that I don’t know the name of. I didn’t think I could learn so much from something so small. But as I gaze at the green leaves, I am struck by the lessons I’ve learned from them:

  1. Every day there is growth. We may not be able to see it immediately, but there is growth.
  2. We need sunlight. Because the sun is always there, hiding or shining, we can take advantage of it. But we need the sun to live, to breathe, to see. Like plants do, we should bask in the sunlight more often.
  3. It’s good to wait. With plants, it takes a bit for them to grow sometimes. I thought I got a defective batch of basil seeds because I couldn’t see anything in the soil for days. Eventually, they sprouted, and I was happy I waited.
  4. Life is a cycle. There are good days and bad days. There are times when you’re young and times when you’re old. It’s the journey of life and each stage has its own beauty.
  5. Getting older doesn’t have to be scary. I saw when my pothos was the singular leaf I stuck in water to begin its propagation process. Now there are five leaves growing from the stem and it’s getting bigger. I am enjoying it and looking forward to its next stages.

At 20 years old, I’m entering a new decade of life where I don’t know if things are going to go as I think they will. I fear the unknown and have this worry that I’m wasting my youth. But I have my plants. They will continue to grow with me. They’ll remain on the table beside my bed, teaching me and brightening my space. I am learning these lessons from them, and I think I will be okay.

About Rabiah Na’Allah

Rabiah Na’Allah and is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Graphic Design and Cinema. She is from Peoria, Illinois, and the self-proclaimed middle child of three sisters. Rabiah is heavily involved in the University of Iowa Honors Program and serves as an Honors Outreach Ambassador and leader on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion council. She is involved in various organizations on campus including the Muslim Student Association, African Student Association and Student Advocates of Planned Parenthood. When she’s not working at school, you can find her doing photography, volunteering at a number of student productions through the Theater program, analyzing her favorite movies, or binge-watching Criminal Minds.

About Sophie Liu 

Sophie Liu is a senior at Dunlap High School who has won numerous art prizes such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award and several honorable mentions. As someone who also values academics, business, and volunteering, she has participated in and led many activities in her community. Her volunteering contribution has awarded her the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. She is one of the club leaders of her school’s Interact Volunteering Club. During her summers, Liu has participated in several business camps such as Kelley Business’s Young Women’s Institute, where she has gained knowledge and experience in her passion. She also runs her own online art business where she creates commissioned art pieces and gains firsthand business experience. Liu plans to continue her love of business, volunteering, and art in college, where she will major in either Marketing or Business Analytics and minor in art.

If I

by Ayannah Garcia

When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn’t 

the old home you missed but your childhood.”  —Sam Ewing

If I had stayed in my old house would everything be different? 

Would I be sleeping next to the same vent

Would all my time still be spent in the lovely, finished basement

If I stayed would my life be different in the present? 

In the past, I wanted to be a vet

Caring for all different types of pets 

Then I started looking into becoming a Rockette 

Now, all I want to be is an actor on-screen playing Roulette    

If I had chosen to do something different, what would it be–

Would I now be an actor that makes a guest appearance on ABC?

Or would I still be at home drinking peach tea?

I think about it always, especially when a see a reflection of me

Fantasizing about it makes me want it more

A tangible thing to work towards

Building that life even though I am a sophomore 

That always will be with me in my core

If I only did that one thing differently and the effect took place

Maybe I would have already finished the race,

The one where my accomplishments are already in my living space

And everything is splendid so there is no need to pace

Somehow I feel like I have time 

But there is this sinking feeling it will never be mine

It might be if I follow a certain line

I think about it all throughout the night.

About Ayannah Garcia

Ayannah Garcia is a freshman attending Richwoods High School, where she takes part in the Pre-IB program, the Royalettes dance team, and the drama club. Outside of school, she loves to dance, read, journal, travel with family, and play with her dog. In addition to these activities, she is currently a member of the Finale Group of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill, an organization for young African American individuals who want to serve the community, and a member of her church’s youth group.

Art by Ellie Kraemer

Ellie Kraemer is a sophomore and an animation major at Bradley University who lives and breathes her artwork. Becoming a professional artist and animator has been a goal of hers for many years, as various works of digital art and experience have held a pivotal role in her life. Intrigued by the diverse storytelling prowess of interactive media, she aims to get involved in the productions of visuals for video games and animated series after graduation. You can find more of her work at ekraemer.myportfolio.com. 

A Gift of Life

by Izaak Garcia 

Organ donations save lives, but there 

are flaws in the system.

People who need an organ transplant often have a limited number of days left. It may be a grim thought, but it leads to some vital questions. How much is one day of life worth? $100? $200? Perhaps even $1000? Is it worth giving up your most prized possessions, items that have been with you from the moment you were born? Or is one day so different from another that it is impossible to quantify? To many people around the world, one day of life is worth next to nothing. To others, it is worth everything they have. But what if you were in charge of determining how much one or more days of life are worth, and not only that, but who gets to receive that life? How would you make that decision? How could you? How could we as humans possibly know what form life manifests in, much less choose who gets to obtain it? Well, in medicine, we do know. Life takes the form of a healthy heart, a non-damaged kidney, or a properly working lung. It’s a functioning liver that filters blood, or a pancreas that breaks down the nutrients in your body. And every day, doctors around the world must operate through a system to choose who receives those essential things.

Dr. Tanjala Purnell, Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular and Clinical Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, delved directly into this problem in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. By studying kidney transplants from living donors from 1995 to 2014, Dr. Purnell was able to uncover a drastic issue within the Black and Hispanic communities in regards to the eligibility of candidates to donate organs. As time progressed, Dr. Purnell found that even though the process of organ transplants wasn’t inherently based on race, the steps to become an eligible organ donor contained underlying biases towards these communities. In the last 20 years, Black and Hispanic populations have been disproportionately affected by diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Because of these factors, they are unable to become a live donor (Johns Hopkins Medicine). It is apparent that the organ donation system is flawed and needs to be improved.

It’s a harsh truth to swallow. It’s even harder knowing that the system and the people in charge of it should be working to change the medical field for the better. But it does not have to stay this way. There are many things that would help to empower people throughout the organ donation process, such as access to a wide variety of educational resources and trained medical professionals. Educating the public about these problems is the first step in the process of not only understanding the medical system, but also improving it for us and future generations.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

About Sophie Liu 

Sophie Liu is a senior at Dunlap High School who has won numerous art prizes such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award and several honorable mentions. As someone who also values academics, business, and volunteering, she has participated in and led many activities in her community. Her volunteering contribution has awarded her the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. She is one of the club leaders of her school’s Interact Volunteering Club. During her summers, Liu has participated in several business camps such as Kelley Business’s Young Women’s Institute, where she has gained knowledge and experience in her passion. She also runs her own online art business where she creates commissioned art pieces and gains firsthand business experience. Liu plans to continue her love of business, volunteering, and art in college, where she will major in either Marketing or Business Analytics and minor in art.

Dignity

by Rasheedah Na’Allah

I am a Nigerian Muslim Woman
Raised from Jollof rice and my mother’s unwavering love
The cracked red mud of my rich Yoruba tongue
The sweltering hot sun
The boom-boom of the drums
in my pumping African veins
And lifelong happiness,
Happiness that rises as my shoulders move to the rhythm
Happiness knowing that I can unapologetically express myself
By wearing a headdress and engaging the cultured personality I possess
Paving the way for my success
The success that makes me so blessed to say
I am a Nigerian Muslim Woman

But my pride comes with a price
A price not paid when I hear the lies spread
About the place I call home
It is then that my heart is at bay
And those beating drums come to a stop
It is then that the pain and stress climb up to my chest
When people say,

Where did you come from?
No, But where did you really come from
Oh, you’re from Africa?
The continent with less
Food, less water
With no access
To fancy shoes or a nice dress
With no school nor class
Yet nonetheless

You speak really good English
But you’re from Nigeria?
The country with extreme poverty and filthiness
With Ebola and sickness
And wild animals in each living room

So maybe that’s why they consider you savages

I’m always left speechless
No words escaping my mouth
And no more breath so
All I say is
“Yes.”

But when people continue to obsess
With the appearance I possess
They overlook the ignorance in their hearts
As they oppress you with their words
To separate, exclude, or write you off from the rest
But I digress

They’ll never be able to force a wave of mess on me
Because I am a Nigerian, Muslim Woman.
Born and raised in the U.S.
A country that has allowed me to see the diversity
In every background and personality
The diversity between you and i
And all the rest

But what if I wasn’t born here?
Does that make me any less?
Worthy of success, opportunity, or happiness

Don’t try to oppress me
Don’t try to belittle me
Don’t call me a mess

Because you think you can confess
That I am considerably less

But you’re wrong
Because we should be the same
The same when it comes to having an awareness
That no matter the success, the money or all the excess
You are not better than the rest
You may be richer in wealth, but I am rich in happiness
Happiness built within me from serving those with less
And seeing them as I see myself

This is what it feels like live a life of fulfillment
When I reflect on my country for teaching me patience
And shaping my ability to dignify others of varying access
I realize that humility is not thinking less of yourself
but rather thinking of yourself less

So yes
I am a proud Nigerian Muslim Woman.

About Rasheedah Na’Allah

Rasheedah Na’Allah is a senior at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois. She is the youngest of her 3 siblings and enjoys the benefits of being the “baby of the house.” Her Nigerian and Muslim upbringing has led her to be resilient and outspoken in her beliefs. Rasheedah is a dedicated student who is a part of the National Honors Society and loves to be active in her community. She planned a diversity assembly at her school in front of the entire student body, formed an extensive research project on racial disparities and inequities in the education system, and has been appointed into the Peoria County Board’s Racial Justice and Equity Commission. She has also served as Dunlap’s representative to engage and network with young state leaders attending the 2020 Illinois Senator Youth Leadership Council. Rasheedah is the founder of her school’s Muslim Student Association, leads in foreign language club, and is a strong member of the color guard team. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering and regularly posts on her cooking page through social media. She started her own book club and enjoys reading and discussing books by BIPOC authors. She hopes to pursue Business, Health, and Wellness during her college years and is extremely honored to write for the Giving Voice Initiative.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Ary Westfall is a junior Interactive Media major and Theatre Arts minor attending Bradley University. She is the social media manager for DAT, creates webcomics in her free time, and enjoys all forms of sequential art. Ary hopes to break into the comic world or find work in pre-production art for television. 

The Great Hunger

by Gabriel Gross

Those who do not heed the lessons of the 

past may see history repeat itself.

Ireland is a bustling place full of friendly locals and busy tourists. Whether exploring historic neighborhoods in Dublin, drinking in a local pub, or adventuring along the coast of the Emerald Isle, Ireland has it all. Although you might be thinking to yourself, “Ireland sounds perfect,” it wasn’t always this way. The Great Hunger, or the Irish Potato Famine, plagued Ireland during the 19th century. It led to one million Irish people dying and an additional one million fleeing the country.

Despite their popularity, potatoes are not native to Ireland; they were brought to the country by Sir Walter Raleigh. This particular type of potato—known as the “Irish Lumper”—survived Ireland’s climate and was commonly appreciated by the Irish people because of how healthy and hardy it was. Half of the Irish population was reliant on this crop, especially the poor, which is part of why the potato famine was so devastating.

The famine was largely the result of phytophthora infestans, a fungus that causes blight and targets the tuber of the potato—an underground stem that helps with reproduction. This bacteria was the number one challenge to potato crops worldwide. The potato crop failed quickly when the bacteria hit Ireland, leading to devastating consequences because Irish farmers did not grow any other crops. Another problem this disease caused was terror to the Irish people. Ireland’s population decreased from 8.4 million to 6.6 million people from 1844-1851, largely due to their inability to grow potatoes from 1845-1849.

Some might come to the conclusion that this disease is solely responsible for causing the famine, though there were also various political factors. Britain ruled Ireland at the time, and the two countries were known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The British regime controlled most of Ireland’s government, including appointing their executive officers. When Britain seized control of Ireland, it snatched up many pieces of land, which were given to the English people. With no power to stand up for themselves to the rich English landlords, the Irish people had to stand by and watch as the British sold any healthy potatoes, leaving Irish citizens with nothing.

Food insecurity, famine, and disease still plague this world today. An example of a modern crisis is the civil war in Yemen, which began in 2014. Twenty million Yemenis struggle with food insecurity, with two million children in that group. Half of Yemen’s citizens do not have access to clean water. An example closer to home would be the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The city water supply became contaminated in 2014. Lack of action by government officials led to a public health disaster. The past is so much like the present that it seems history really does repeat itself. It’s crucial that we remember historical catastrophes such as what happened in Ireland, while being aware that people are still experiencing the same today.

About Gabe Gross 

Gabriel Gross is an eighth grader at St. Thomas school in Peoria Heights. He is the Student Council president. He plans to go to Richwoods and apply for the IB program. He loves baseball, basketball, and traveling. He also enjoys learning about history and how much it has changed our lives today.

Art by Ellie Kraemer

Ellie Kraemer is a sophomore and an animation major at Bradley University who lives and breathes her artwork. Becoming a professional artist and animator has been a goal of hers for many years, as various works of digital art and experience have held a pivotal role in her life. Intrigued by the diverse storytelling prowess of interactive media, she aims to get involved in the productions of visuals for video games and animated series after graduation. You can find more of her work at ekraemer.myportfolio.com. 

My Childhood Is Gone

by Ayannah Garcia

The feeling of my youth is gone
I don’t know where it went but I see it when I look at the swans
Maybe it’s the superheroes flying around in capes that I miss
Or the warm feeling that comes along with a forehead kiss


Clouds are moving along the sky with my age
Money used to be a funny thing now it is a necessity for a wage
My brother’s not-forgotten absence aches in my rib cage
Almost feels like everything that is going on is a play on the stage


Is my youth in a place I cannot touch?
It probably is, since I miss it so much
Memories make my heart break into two
But you could somehow patch it with some glue?


Patch the broken heart and stitch my split
Gauze, tape and medicine are also in the First Aid Kit
To use to fix me while we are laying in the candlelit
Hold on, is this just an essay for school I forgot to submit?


My daydreams are distracting me from math
But they used to be a part of my life when I took a bath
Childhood feelings are slowly slipping from me
Where is a place I can once again be carefree?


I want back my dad’s tuck-ins
The laughter that came from tickling my skin
The feeling of my youth is gone and it makes my head spin
It makes me feel like I am scraps of paper left in the trash bin.

About Ayannah Garcia

Ayannah Garcia is a freshman attending Richwoods High School, where she takes part in the Pre-IB program, the Royalettes dance team, and the drama club. Outside of school, she loves to dance, read, journal, travel with family, and play with her dog. In addition to these activities, she is currently a member of the Finale Group of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill, an organization for young African American individuals who want to serve the community, and a member of her church’s youth group.

About Faith Marie

Faith Marie is a homeschooled 18 year old freshman at Ashworth College. She enjoys nature, rainy days, and her pet dog and snails. She has an abundance of love for Jesus and people of all kinds. The idea of creating art that has never existed before inspires her. You can find her on Instagram at @faithmariedraws or on tiktok at @_faitha.

The Most Formative Four Years

by Liz Setti 

Is college really the best four years of 

your life, or an opportunity to grow 

into the person you hope to become?

Social media influencer Eli Rallo once said, “College is not the best four years of your life, but the most formative ones.” As a senior in high school soon to be attending Loyola University Chicago in the fall, this idea strongly resonated with me. There seems to be a societal stereotype that between the ages of 18 and 22 (the average age of college students) is supposed to be the epitome of an untamed lifestyle. With this concept being preached, an incredible amount of pressure exists for students in college to create a way of living that matches that societal standard. This pressure is also then placed on young adults who are soon to move into college since they are fixated on trying to adopt the sought-after “college” lifestyle. I think there needs to be a shift in the narrative about the college experience because if the peak of your life is between 18 and 22, the rest of your existence is just dull. Reframing this time to become “the most formative years of your life” allows students to have a healthier relationship with their college experience. 

To preface, it is important to acknowledge that creating the ideal college experience (according to society) requires a lot of privilege that is not the reality for many college students. 

In order to reframe my mindset going into college, I have compiled a few goals that will foster a formative environment. I think that it is important for anyone who is transitioning into a new era of their life (in my case college) to assemble some realistic objectives to strive towards. However, goals are very subjective and are not “one-size-fits-all,” therefore take my list of priorities as inspiration, not a prescription.

  1. Attend local off-campus events. By attending Loyola, I will have the city of Chicago at my fingertips—which allows for plenty of exploration and enjoyment outside of the borders of Loyola. I can speculate that many college students confine themselves to only going to events hosted by their school because it is more comfortable for them. However, I really want to venture out into the city and embody being a Chicago resident, not just a Loyola student. Something I really want to do is join a local running club which would force me to spend time with people who may not be affiliated with my school. 
  2. Start a fun new hobby with my roommate Eliana. I have been very lucky to have become close with my future roommate, Eliana, prior to us moving into our dorm this fall. Instead of her just being someone I live with I am eager to also grow our friendship. I think it would be fun for us to find something we both enjoy doing together and integrate it into our time at Loyola. The activity may be something we just find naturally, or we may have to brainstorm. But the sole purpose of this goal is to actively grow my relationship with the people surrounding me. It is overwhelming to commit myself to make friends with everyone around me therefore setting a small and attainable objective like this makes it a lot easier to accomplish. 
  3. Chill with the FOMO (“fear of missing out”) I assume that it is safe to say that we all experience some sense of FOMO in our lifetime. FOMO is feeling the need to attend every social event out of the fear of missing out. I suffer from this all the time, so I find myself going out every weekend and never giving myself time to recharge and be satisfied with my own company. FOMO is even more prevalent in college through social media and party culture. I want to try to actively remind myself when I get to college that I do not need to subscribe to a 24/7 party lifestyle as a result of FOMO. The main objective of this goal is to achieve the balance of staying in and going out while also not feeling guilty when I decide to have a night to myself. 

Overall finding the time to set realistic goals for college that do not necessarily relate to academics has relieved some of the societal pressure that I have been facing recently. I can focus on what I want my college version to look like, not what society deems “ideal.” I do not want to peak in college nor have the best years of my life be between the ages of 18 and 22 years old. The rest of my life would only seem to be downhill from there which is so undesirable. However, I want college to be the most formative period of my life where I can flourish into adulthood and be prepared to peak for the rest of my time. 

About Liz Setti

Liz Setti is a Peoria area native and graduated in the class of 22 from Richwoods High School. She is going to be a freshman at Loyola University Chicago this fall where she will study nursing. Liz is passionate about writing and has her own blog, “A Hidden Addiction” and was former co-editor in chief of the newspaper at Richwoods. Some of Liz’s favorite hobbies are running, cooking, and hanging with her friends.

Art by Ellie Kraemer

Ellie Kraemer is a sophomore and an animation major at Bradley University who lives and breathes her artwork. Becoming a professional artist and animator has been a goal of hers for many years, as various works of digital art and experience have held a pivotal role in her life. Intrigued by the diverse storytelling prowess of interactive media, she aims to get involved in the productions of visuals for video games and animated series after graduation. You can find more of her work at ekraemer.myportfolio.com. 

The Closeted Priest’s Daughter

by Eli Backhaus

Daylight basks on the church
While the priest preaches his biblical research


The community praises his teachings
While his words cause my spirit to quarrel and sting


The one who speaks on the pulpit is my father
The church worships me as a perfect preacher’s daughter


Only if they knew I am tormented and solely exist in the witches hour
I am a coward


My identity lies within a hidden chest


The key has fallen between the cracks of dusk and dawn
When will the silver lining of right and wrong be redrawn?


My soul sleeps in horror
As the cult I call my church roarers


If only they knew a deadly sin lies within the priests dwelling


In the depths of my closet a pink, purple, blue flag you will find
It is kept in a bind


My love for the same has been sacrificed
Oh God, when will you sanctify my hell sending sin?
I beg for you to cleanse my skin
Light it to flames for I am to blame


I am called to be a woman of God
But I am flawed


I have fallen in love with a woman’s spirit
My whole being fears it

I pray and plea for you to save me
Then you answer me


Suddenly the ticks on the clock breeches a block
A shooting star takes a breath in time
I grasp the time I’m given
My eyes squint to see the Lord’s writings upon the truth star


The script I see tattoos his love on me
It has not once changed
He does not blame or shame
He accepts my abundant love for my one and only


With the renewing rightness of his gift given to me
I pray the same star stops for the eyes of those designed like me


The chimes on the clock resume
But my old self at no time will presume


I am now devoted to my same spirited love and love for my God


Think no more of religion
But about a decision


To love my beloved God and to love who I desire


So I let my identity fly free
I hang my flag proudly
I am free to be me.

by Eli Backhaus

Eli Backhaus is an aspiring author. She writes poetry and spoken words nearly every day. This year Backhaus submitted a poem to Poetry Nation’s writing competition and advanced to the semi-finals. This poem is being published in a book with the works of other semi-finalists and finalist’s poetry. It will be available to purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (online). Backhaus is excited to be moving forward in her journey to becoming a known author. She hopes to sign with a publisher and/or self-publish future books. When not writing poetry, Backhaus aspires to write fiction and non-fiction books. She wants to write and share her story about being a gay Christian living in a pastor’s household. Backhaus believes everyone should know they are loved and accepted by God, and that any church teachings otherwise are both hypocritical and detrimental. She hopes to reveal the truth about the wonderful person God has made all of us to be.

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