Seniors reflect on undergrad, life after graduationBy Serena Bailey | 05/29/2017 7:29am
“It’s definitely been a lot more hectic than I thought it would be,” said Atassi, a senior majoring in psychology. “It’s been a lot of running around and just tying up loose ends and getting ready for graduation, but still being fully engaged in classes and stuff. I think it just gets so busy that you can lose track of time and then it’s over before you realize it.”
Throughout their final year, Atassi and her fellow graduates have found the time on top of classes to apply for graduation, order caps and gowns and maybe even take graduation photos around campus. The past couple weeks, she said, have been about reminding herself that she’s made it this far and that it’s almost over.
“It’s just been like ‘Okay this is what you have to do to graduate,’” she said. “You can’t do these fun things unless you do the less than fun things, and being like ‘Alright gotta get through this. You did it for however many years, you can do it for a couple more weeks. Just keep going.’”
At the end of the summer, Atassi will leave for Virginia, where she’ll start law school at George Mason University. Right after graduation, she plans to get her friends together for one last night of fun.
“I really like campus,” she said. “I really like walking around the Quad and I think that I’m not going to find something as woodsy or whatever in Arlington, Virginia. I think I’ll miss how nature is interspersed with the city.”
If Atassi could go back in time and tell her freshman self anything it would be to calm down.
“You freak out way too much,” she would say. “You’re going to find friends and you’re going to find something to do and you’re going to figure out what you want to do in life or whatever. You’re just freaking out for honestly no good reason. Just calm down it’ll play out when it plays out. Trying to rush it is not going to help anything.”
Senior Justin Dunaway would simply tell his freshman self to drop his computer science major.
“It’s not worth it,” he said. “Just find something you like doing because that was my big concern when I first got here. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and I felt like I was kind of wasting my parents’ money because I’m not here in like a full ride or anything, and it took me a little while to even get to a level of math ... to even be able to start taking programming classes and then I realized my sophomore year I hated it.”
Dunaway enjoyed his introductory geology classes, however, and switched his major to geology. In the fall he’ll start his graduate studies in geology here at the University.
A change in major wasn’t the only change during his time here, he said. He’s learned how to think for himself more.
“Somebody would say something to me in high school and I’d just generally accept it as true,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just the process of being a science major and you have to back up everything you say with sources and stuff like that, but whenever someone tells me something or tries to tell me something I always ask them ‘Where did you hear that,’ ‘What’s that from,’ ‘I’m not sure I agree with that at all.’ ”
Preparing for graduation has been a relatively calm process for him. Since he’s staying in town and many of his friends are undergraduates, Dunaway doesn’t expect too much to change next year.
“I don’t feel like I’m about to reach the finish line because I know I’m going to go to grad school for two more years,” he said. “I’m just kind of looking at it as a continuation, you know. I’m not going to celebrate too much until it’s all over.”
Vic Harris, a senior majoring in public relations, will walk next week, but won’t officially graduate until August after they take their last Spanish course. After that, they plan to take a year off and come back to get their master’s in creative writing.
One of the best parts of senior year for Harris has been reconnecting with old friends on the rugby team.
“Me and an old friend of mine joined rugby,” Harris said. “We’ve been hanging out a lot, her and me and another teammate, and that’s definitely been a really good time. I’ll definitely miss having her in my life. I know it’s not like a product of being a senior but it happened this year we’ve been having a lot of fun together, all three of us.”
Being at this University for the past four years, Harris said, has influenced their life in more ways than they thought it would.
“I think there’s a lot of things that have happened to me that wouldn’t have happened to me if I’d gone someplace else,” they said. “I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten into my car accident, because I wouldn’t have met the people that I got into the car for, but also then I wouldn’t have probably would have realized that I wanted to do social activism with my PR and creative writing.”
Even though they’re nearly done, Harris said they still feel the pressure of deadlines like other seniors.
“I feel like I’m in an unending void,” Harris said. “Like I’m pulling an act of Icarus flying too close to the sun of the deadlines on deeply flawed wings.”