by Alexa Schmidt
Seniors Hayden Clarke and Lina Bengtson are graduating from Manhattan College this December. They are both are athletes on the track and field team and major in electrical engineering.
Clarke is originally from Townsville, Australia, and Bengtson hails from Malmo, Sweden. They started their college career in January, halfway through most freshmen’s first year.
“Back at home, the school year finishes in November/December. I took a year off to try and get a scholarship, but you can only take a year off before you start losing eligibility. I took my full year to get a scholarship and then came over here, and then that happened to be in January,” Clarke said.
Although Clarke is from a location where many college students usually want to study abroad, he chose to attend Manhattan College.
“I’ve always wanted to go to America for college, I thought that would be such a great opportunity to travel and see the world. Like I never left my country or anything like that. I’ve never been overseas or anything, so I thought it was a really great opportunity. I was pretty good you know, at track when I was younger, so I thought, why not take advantage and it brought me here. I sent my performances out all over the country and this one caught my eye the most. It’s in New York and it’s great engineering school,” Clarke said.
Being on the track and field team has been beneficial to both Clarke and Bengtson, who jump and throw, respectively. They agree that it’s added to their overall college experience, and is one of the main reasons why they went to MC in the first place.
“It helped a lot actually, in terms of my academics. At the moment I’m not really practicing, like at all, and without that structure I sort of just waste a lot of time now. So it really helped me in term of time management and stuff. Not having the time forced me to do stuff.” Clarke said.
“I wanted to go to America and see how it was and the track and field head coach contacted me, and we were talking, and I thought it was a cool opportunity.” Bengtson said.
Bengtson and Clarke’s graduation is a little unconventional in that they completed four years, so they technically don’t graduate early. But, Clarke still feels a lost sense of time and definitely feels like he missed out a little bit.
“For me, more than anything I felt like I missed out last year, because I came in in the middle of the year with a freshman class who I spent the whole time with, and then they’ve already graduated. So I feel like I missed out last May. I’ve got friends that are graduating next May, but it felt like I knew more people last year, and I had more friends that are out in the work force so I feel like I’ve spent a semester doing just little things to fill out my degree rather than finishing like everyone else,” Clarke said.
For Bengtson, it’s a little different. She doesn’t mind the time difference, but she misses the people she met and grew close with.
“I came in and took classes later so that I could be with the sophomore class straight away and be with the class that graduated, which is good because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to graduate now. I don’t feel like I missed something in the fall semester, it’s just I’m sad they’re not here anymore. But I have friends that are younger than me so it’s not that bad,” Bengtson said.
Both Bengtson and Clarke have plans for after college.
“I’ve currently applied to a Ph.D program back at home. A company I worked for over the summer offered a fellowship scholarship sort of a thing to me, and I’m going to go back home at the end of December and see where that takes me. That should be the next three years of my life all planned out and I’ll take it from there,” Clark said.
“I want a job. So right now I’m looking for a job and hope to try to do track a little bit. I have my paperwork done so hopefully I can stay [in the U.S.] if I get a job and eventually I’m going to get my masters degree. I’m not sure where that’s going to be yet, but either here or back home or somewhere else in the world,” Bengtson said.
Overall, their experience at MC has been a positive one. They’ve made a lot of cherished memories, but look forward to what the future holds.
“I think it’s helped me grow up a lot, and help me sort of figure out what I want for the future. I really know now that I don’t like the cold. So i’ll never be living somewhere for a long period of time in the cold. I feel like it’s helped me grow up a lt, and that’s one of the biggest things,” Clarke said.
“I like it here. Definitely. I’ve had a good four years so I’m not complaining,” added Bengtson.