Ashlyn Chapman

I graduated college

After 5.5 years I finally walked across the graduation stage this weekend.

Ashlyn takes graduation photos in Fall 2022 Ashlyn smiles after graduation ceremony

When I moved into my dorm in August 2018, I had no idea what a humbling, heart-breaking, historical adventure college would become.

I postponed my graduation twice to to work and travel to make the most of this time.

I took off two semester to work full-time at LexisNexis.

Initially, I struggled adjusting to computer science culture. However, the professionals at LexisNexis were cooler, kinder, and more creative than my previous experience with "tech bros" had been.

Co-op is the only reason I didn't stop programming completely.

(Well, co-op and pointed encouragement from my friend and fellow rower, Sara Altman)

Two months into co-op, the world shutdown.

Covid-19 stole 3+ semesters of college from us. One of which I spent studying on a ping-pong table in my grandpa's windowless basement. But, hey, he cooked me all my meals. Without anything else to do, I averaged 10 hours a day thinking about, learning about, or writing code.

I grieved the death of my Nana and the freedom to pursue new things. College is the time to explore your interests, they say.

For a while I thought that Covid-19 also took my opportunity to study abroad.

So fixated on graduating, I forgot about a goal I intended to achieve in college. As a senior in high school, I didn't know what I wanted to major in, but I knew I wanted to go to Spain. The time slipped away. I was about to start my final semester of classes, yet I had not studied abroad.

Only four months before I planned to graduate, I decided to study in Barcelona for real. I called my parents to reveal my plans.

The very next day I fractured my foot in 6 places.

The following months crept by. Unable to walk, I felt helpless. Still, I started my economics minor and finished my computer science major.

In December 2022, I attended my friends' graduation.

In January 2023, I flew to Barcelona.

I traveled to amazing cities, ate delicious food, and learned about art. I lived with a hilarious family who helped me speak better Spanish. I ran my first half marathon only six months after breaking my foot. I learned to surf in Portugal, and I walked the Camino de Santiago alone.

Ashlyn in graduation gown at MNAC overlooking Barcelona

I'm glad I stuck with computer science.

Learning to code has been one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I'm not immune to the war between consumption and creation, and I am lucky to have a skill that lets me make things every single day.

During college, I learned to code.

I also learned to be patient. Breaking my foot taught me to ask for help. Most important, I stopped worrying about things outside of my influence. What I can control is the amount of effort, excitement, and intention I show up with.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for loving and supporting me. And for telling me when I need to chill out.