News, On Campus

‘The Reality is Always Better Than the Brochure:’ Graduates at Agape

Piloting its first-ever “Agape Latte Extra: Senior Night,” Agape Latte welcomed back Peter Trainor and Elizabeth Stief, both BC ’15, to a packed Hillside Cafe Tuesday night. Following coffee, cake, and musical performances by the Boston College Dynamics and the music trio that plays at 10:15 p.m. Mass, the two graduates shared their experiences throughout their first year following graduation.

Stief, who has worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers since September, reflected on her time at BC. A native of Wisconsin, she said she wanted to venture out and do something new.

Since she was very active in the BC community through clubs and organizations while on the Heights, Stief said she struggled to find the same comfort in her free time post-graduation.

“You will experience some challenges along the way,” Stief said. “These opportunities are not as readily available in the real world.”

After failing to fill the void of free time like she was able to do through clubs at BC, Stief explained a call with her aunt that helped reframe her perspective and allowed her to start enjoying independence in the real world.

During the phone call, Stief’s aunt told her to see the things that you’re not necessarily looking for. In other words, Stief said, the things in life that could bring you joy and fulfillment are easily overlooked.

Stief also spoke about challenges she has faced during her career, and how she has been able to overcome them.

Relaying influential advice she received through a story from her pastor, Stief said she had been planning her life out like a brochure. The trip to the resort as advertised so ideally in the brochure, Stief said, is not as great once you actually get there.

“The reality is always better than the brochure. It’s okay not to have everything planned out.”

— Elizabeth Stief, BC ’15

“The reality is always better than the brochure,” Stief said. “It’s okay not to have everything planned out.”

Taking both pieces of advice, Stief said she has found enjoyment in the experiences she has every day. From joining a mentoring program to help interns, to planning a surprise Easter trip back to Wisconsin, Stief now enjoys the smaller moments in life.

Trainor, on the other hand, who currently works for Habitat for Humanity, joked about his post-grad life. He said that he did what all successful graduates do after graduation—move home with Mom and Dad.

After harping on the benefits of living at home and deepening his relationships with friends and family, Trainor said that he eventually moved to Cambridge to stake his claim in the real world.

Similar to Stief, Trainor said he felt a lack of structured community after leaving BC. To fill the void, Trainor began to go to church, but soon realised that Mass was not the most fulfilling way to spend his time, as he tended to fade in and out during the service.

By working with Habitat for Humanity, Trainor was in an environment where he could always focus. He recalled one day when his boss came in and told him that he would be going to build homes in Ethiopia—a country with violent revolts against its government.

Prior to his trip to Ethiopia, Trainor came into contact with an Ethiopian woman named Hana who lived in Boston. Hana hosted him for dinner and told him about the country. By the end of the dinner, Trainor said, Hana rolled out the largest suitcase he had ever seen and asked him to bring it with him to Ethiopia. Trainor said that Hana handed him a phone number and asked him to deliver the suitcase to her family in Ethiopia.

Toward the end of his Ethiopia trip with Habitat for Humanity, Trainor met up with Hana’s family. After unpacking the suitcase, the family almost immediately began repacking it with a variety of things for Trainor to bring back to Boston.

Among the many items they were putting into the suitcase were butter, beef stew, honey, spices, whiskey, and a cloth paper bag.

“I’m just going to assess the situation at the airport,” Trainor said. “Obviously I got stopped by customs.”

Explaining his situation to the airport officials, Trainor said he was able to safely bring the items on board.

For Trainor, being able to connect a family that lives so far apart was an experience unlike any other. Trainor described it as a spiritually rewarding task.

“It was like a year of church and never fading out,” Trainor said.

Featured Image by Isabelle Lumb / Heights Staff

May 4, 2016