Annika Svoboda, '18

Annika Svoboda sits in front of some tulips on campus

Although from Wasilla, Alaska, senior Annika Svoboda focused her college search on the Midwest. In the end, Svoboda found herself traveling over 3,000 miles to attend Rockhurst University. Read her interview below. 


Q: What were you looking for in a university?

A: I was definitely looking for a smaller community. I knew that I didn’t want to go to a big state school. I wanted to get an education that was faith-based. I mean, basically I chose Rockhurst because it was Catholic, because it had my major and because it was small.

Q: What other schools were you looking at?

A: I looked at the University of Northern Colorado, University of Northern Iowa, Truman State, and Rockhurst.

Q: What stood out to you about Rockhurst?

A: I think it was definitely my campus tour at Rockhurst. When I came to campus, everyone was just very welcoming and I just felt very comfortable. I think definitely the overall atmosphere. I could tell there was a strong tight-knit community just in that hour or so I was visiting campus. I specifically remember the ambassador that took me on the tour. She was very personable and she left me with a token of advice about choosing a college. What matters the most is where you’re going to be most comfortable. After visiting all the other schools, I really found that to be true for my time at Rockhurst.

Q: What about Rockhurst or Kansas City in general really appealed to you when you were making your decision?

A: Honestly, I didn’t really think about the location so much as the school. I just wanted to get out of Alaska, so I didn’t really care where I went, location-wise. It was really the school that sold me.

Q: What was your family thinking about the big move?

A: My family was very supportive of whatever I wanted to do. I am so grateful for that. They’ve always said, ‘Yeah, you’re probably going to go away to college.’ That’s just kind of like the norm I think coming from where I’m from. There was never really any resistance or holding back. I know that they miss me, but they also have been very generous and supportive of me doing my own thing.

Q: What was it like moving to Rockhurst and being that far away from home?

A: I was really, really excited up until after the welcome Mass. That was emotional. You know, everyone is leaving their parents. That was when it hit me that I was going to be so far away, but I think even just in orientation and in the first week you meet so many people and you start to form friendships even that early on so that made it easy.

Q: What about Rockhurst made settling in a bit easier?

A: I think definitely the friends that I made just in the first little bit of time. Me and my roommate freshman year were randomly chosen and we’ve lived together even until now. We’ve gotten to be really close and we have a lot in common. I think having her from the beginning and all the girls on my floor. It’s interesting to see now most of us are still friends.

Q: How often did you get to go home?

A: I only went home for Christmas and summer breaks, so, kind of limited.

Q: What was it like being away for other big holidays?

A: It was definitely an adjustment. I’ve been fortunate enough to have family in Omaha. I’ve been able to reconnect with them and spend some of the shorter breaks, like Thanksgiving and Easter, with them.

Q: What has been your favorite memory while at Rockhurst?

A: I think probably Rockstock of my freshman year. Andy Grammer came and my roommate, Julia, and I love him. We loved him even before we knew he was coming. We weaseled our way up to the front of the concert and that was really fun.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about KC?

A: I think definitely with the variety of restaurants and coffee shops, there’s always something new to try. Definitely the food culture.

Q: What do you like about living in Missouri or the Midwest in general?

A: I like that it is contiguous, so you can drive places. You can drive and be in another state, which is pretty cool. I think there are a lot of opportunities for travel, more feasible travel. I’ve enjoyed long road trips.

Q: What has been your favorite road trip?

A: Junior year for spring break I went with some friends to Utah and we went to Zion National Park and Arches National Park. Then we drove down to the Grand Canyon as well.

Q: How did moving away from home open you up to future opportunities you may have not had if you stayed?

A: I think, especially with coming to a Jesuit institution, I’ve been able to grow in many different ways, whether it be academically or spiritually in my faith, that I think I wouldn’t have been able to if I had stayed home for college. And I definitely appreciate the service-oriented aspects of Rockhurst — I’ve had some amazing experiences out in the community in Kansas City. I’ve been able to experience life from a different perspective.

Q: What are you doing after graduation?

A: I’m going to be going to grad school in Idaho, at Idaho State University, for speech language pathology. I’m excited about that. Another new adventure.

Q: Moving to college, whether it be 20 minutes away or 10 hours away is a big transition. What would be your advice to an incoming freshman moving away from home for the first time?

A: I think trying as best as you can to get involved. Meet as many people as possible. Here at Rockhurst, that is fairly easy to do because we are a very close-knit community. If possible, live in the residence halls. Looking back, most of the people who I’m still friends with now were either on my floor or I had very close contact with them on other floors in the residence halls. I think it’s important to just kind of put yourself out there. I’m not the most bubbly, talkative person, but I think I made that a point because I knew that if you have good friendships and social connections, then you’re going to enjoy your time a lot more wherever you are.