Senior Send-off 2022: Kiara Conley

Bouts of confusion, endless questions and overthinking have come and gone the last four years of my college career, but I never let that overshadow the experiences, memories and personal accomplishments I had along the way. From going back and forth on, “Was I in the right major?” “Will I be successful in my field?” “Will I be happy doing this every day?” I was scared of whether or not I would be happy continuing my studies. As I went through each semester and began to believe in my abilities and build a good foundation of skills, I began to not be as nervous and was excited to continue in something I fell in love doing.

Looking back, I changed my mind countless times when I was growing up thinking of what I would do when I was older and I don’t think I really knew what I truly wanted to do until my senior year of high school. I wanted to do something that would allow me to tell the stories of others, as I always had the notion that everyone has a story to tell, no matter how “big” or “small” their story was. Curiosity has been a driving force for me, which I guess explains why I went back and forth on several possible careers and my interests in many areas, from different genres of music to sports and just about anything in between. That innate curiosity has continued throughout my life and why I try to get to know the people around me, to learn who they are, their interests and what they’re passionate about; to me, it’s still a form of storytelling, even through small conversations. I think this is what pushed me to pursue journalism, as I have learned it’s not all big news stories and reporting on the latest information that the public needs to know: there is that aspect of human interest and why people search for feel good stories alongside the latest headlines.

My time at the University of Indianapolis and within the Department of Communication has taught me a lot about who I am and has given me great lessons along the way. I feel like I have grown exponentially and have gotten over many fears, pushing me out of my comfort zone and growing into a well-rounded writer and journalist. While I do wish I had explored more of what the department had to offer, I am incredibly grateful to the professors and peers who I have met here who encouraged me.

The Reflector became a second home to me. I met many incredible people through my work here, including who was on staff since my freshman year. I hold many precious memories in the newsroom, even the ones from very long Friday productions, and it’s the place where I became friends with some incredible people. Each year, I had the opportunity to work with very talented individuals and to everyone who I have worked with, thank you so much for everything. To the 2021-22 Reflector staff, I am so incredibly grateful for making my last year on staff an unforgettable experience; I cannot thank you enough and I am so excited to see what the future holds for you. To my precious Tulips, I love and appreciate you all so much for not only your support during college, but for your unwavering love and friendship.

While my college experience was not at all predictable and not fully what I expected, I don’t think there is much I would change about it. Each obstacle brought a great lesson and each victory brought immense joy. The support from peers, friends and family motivated me to finish what I had started and to each one of you, you have my gratitude.

I have held onto this mantra of “Your story will change” and it is something I think about from time to time. My story has changed and it will continue to change, and even in the times where I don’t feel fully prepared for that change, it is something meant to happen and I am ready to see where it takes me.

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