Soon-to-be graduate Yasmeen Wafai describes her experience at Washington State University as "surreal."
She managed to complete her degree in communications in just three and a half years, holding down multiple jobs during her last semester of college.
Wafai will be one of about 800 students expected to participate in WSU's fall commencement ceremony today in Pullman.
Looking back on her time at WSU, Wafai said it could have ended a lot differently.
She struggled her sophomore year and almost transferred to the University of Washington, which would have brought her closer to her hometown of Tacoma. Wafai was later diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.
The communications program and her colleagues at The Daily Evergreen helped her find a sense of community.
"To be just days away from something sophomore-me was just dying to get to, it's like surreal," the 21-year-old said. "I wouldn't have had the same experience at WSU without (The Daily Evergreen), and I don't think I could have found this anywhere else, so I'm really glad I stayed."
This week was her last at the student-run newspaper, where she started as a reporter. She worked up the ranks to become assistant news editor.
Along with taking 17 credit hours, she also held an internship at Washington State Magazine, a quarterly publication that focuses on the university.
Her time at both publications allowed her to focus on what she loves.
"I've always liked to write, and I like talking to people and asking questions," Wafai said. "Nowadays, there's a lot more to it than just writing. There's the content creation side I've been able to explore more in my time here."
Wafai is ready to wind down after a whirlwind of a semester. She's in no rush to snag a job, but she's already cast a large net of job applications in the Seattle area, applying to newspapers, online publications and other roles that involve communications.
She said she won't soon forget her experience at WSU and in Pullman.
"I have learned a lot, and I would definitely say the communications program has definitely had the most impact on my time here."
Her advice for other students was simple.
"Just work hard and be patient," Wafai said. "If I could tell my freshman-year-self something I think it would be that, because I think I maybe wasted a little bit of time that could have been used enjoying my college experience more. If you work hard enough, what you want will come to you."
Justyna Tomtas may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.