ZU Magazine is a publication of ZU Media.
Staff Writer | Katrina Williams
Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” Picture this: your bedroom is dark, blinds shut, you are wide awake, unmoving. The only thing circulating in your mind are those three words: I lack nothing. No matter how many times you repeat it to yourself, you continue to feel as though you lack everything.
After losing your community, moving from your apartment, and leaving your workplace, all that remains is time and nothingness.
According to a 2015 study published by the University of California, Berkeley, over 47 percent of students admitted to struggling with depression after they graduated, and 10 percent of these students admitted to having serious thoughts of suicide.
Azusa Pacific is not an exception to these statistics. When students graduate, many find themselves disconnected and depressed; they feel the heavy weight of nothingness.
Alumna Katherine Dupont graduated from Azusa Pacific in May of 2016 with a degree in Theology.
“No-one really talked about what it would be like after,” Dupont said.
As time went on, the tight-knit community that Dupont had spent four years creating at Azusa Pacific slowly dwindled away. In November of 2016, she moved back home to Sacramento where she experienced serious depression.
According to a 2016 Pew Research study, 32 percent of people ages 18 to 32 make arrangements to live at home with their parents until they get married or cohabitate with a romantic partner.
Dupont mourned her loss saying, “A community, people who care about you, it all disappears.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death in young adults. The Institute also reports that there are twice as many suicides in the US as there are homicides.
As a senior in her last semester at Azusa Pacific, Kali Arvidson, a studio art major, feels as though she is ill-prepared for practical steps after graduation.
“I think the hard part will be all the adult stuff,” Arvidson said. “For everyone I’ve talked to, even if they weren’t really involved [in the APU community], they still miss APU and are having a really hard time.”
A 2005 study asked over 700 college students at the University of California Berkeley about their post-graduation depression. Out of the Ph.D. students, the highest rates of depression were found in those who pursued the humanities, a stark 64 percent.
Arvidson is pursuing her studies in art and shared her insecurities about finding a job.
“I feel equipped with my faith. APU prepares you to work on a team and gives you really good people skills,” Arvidson said. “But I do not feel prepared for all the other things like finances and balancing a new schedule.”
According to Dupont, Azusa Pacific must make better efforts to prepare their graduates for the workforce while also preparing them to develop a community outside of Azusa Pacific.
Jessica Sanchez, Operations Coordinator in the Office of Alumni Engagement at APU, works to help alumni adjust to life after college. Based on her own experience, Sanchez found community to be the key to avoiding post-graduation depression.
“It’s really important to be grounded in something that can get you through the first few months or even years. For me it was my church,” Sanchez said. “Be honest with the people around you and with yourself.”
Without proper preparation and openness about your feelings, it is possible that Azusa Pacific graduates will find themselves experiencing depression like so many other college graduates.When feeling this way, it is almost impossible to remember, I lack nothing.
This is why, according to Sanchez, the Alumni Engagement Office has hosted an event called “NEXT” for the past two years. In this event, different speakers gather to share on topics that affect students after they graduate.
Although the upcoming NEXT event isn’t yet scheduled, more information about the office can be found here.