Anthony Siegrist—Staff Writer
Four years seems like a lifetime to incoming freshmen when they are first beginning. But after they learn to brush off the nerves and dive into college living, the years rush by and…
They’re a college graduate.
Here’s where the tricky part comes in–independent adult living. Instead of worrying about what meal the Dordt Commons is going to serve next Saturday, graduates must concern themselves with job hunts or menial tasks like bills and taxes.
Jalyn Bender, a Dordt Alumni, graduated a theater major. The next day, she got married. Within 48 hours, Jalyn went from being an engaged college student to a married college graduate.
At first glance, the only noticeable thing that has changed about Jalyn is a shorter haircut—fondly self-proclaimed as her “mom cut.”
Currently, the Benders are living in Sioux Center. Bender’s husband, Aidan, will continue his senior year at Dordt. In the meantime, Bender stays busy with what will be four part-time jobs.
With a taste for variety, Bender currently teaches English to children online in China and teaches tumbling at Studio R, a local dance studio. In the next couple weeks, Bender will also start working as a CNA at Royal Meadows and a barista at The Fruited Plain.
For some, life after college can be hard to get accustomed to, and there is a lot of responsibility involved.
“I’m much more conscious…about our monetary situation now,” Bender said. “I also really want to have kids and we can’t…until we make enough to support [them].”
In 2019, student loan debt climbed to a total of $1.5 trillion dollars spread across a population of 44 million indebted graduates, according to the Pew Research Center. That number is the highest it has ever been.
“In college you’re raking up the debt but don’t even worry about it,” Bender joked. “Now that I’m done, I’m getting emails about paying off my loans. That level of responsibility doesn’t just come with marriage, it comes with being done with college and being out of the house.”
The Benders are uncertain about life after Aidan’s graduation. Bender’s dream job is to be a stay-at-home-mom, and it always has been. However, until she and her husband are ready, Bender stays active in the community, which enables her to get to know many people of different generations. This also allows her to stay connected with her friends still at Dordt.
“I do definitely miss [Dordt] already. I especially miss my theater department [because] that was such a big part of my life. I love being involved in shows; that was my favorite part of Dordt,” Bender said.