Winter graduation is quickly approaching, and seniors at The University of Southern Mississippi are gearing up to walk the stage at Reed Green.
While some have exact plans post-graduation, others are less certain, willing to see what opportunities are afforded them.
Richard Maliden, an information technology major, has been taking classes at Southern Miss since 2008 and has changed his major five times.
“I really enjoyed my time, mostly because I got involved in extra-curricular activities. I did Greek life and played rugby for a little while.” While unsure of his exact plans after graduation, Maliden is on the hunt for a job. “I have a couple things to check up on, like an intern position at the Naval
Research Lab on the coast. It’s a subset of Stennis Space Center. Or maybe I’ll just take some R&R since I’ve been here since 2008.”
Richard enjoyed his time at Southern Miss, but regrets not deciding on his major sooner.
“I had the mentality ‘I like computers, but I don’t want to ruin the hobby’” he said. “But that was stupid. You should go into a field you enjoy.”
For Melanie Russell, a speech pathology major, graduation still doesn’t seem real.
“Graduating in three and a half years just happened,” she said. “I was dual-enrolled in high school and ended up having to take some summer classes. But I am absolutely happy to be graduating early. I’m kinda burnt out right now.”
After the semester ends, Russell plans to take the spring semester off to work and prepare for graduate school, with The University of Alabama is Russell’s dream graduate school.
“Alabama has an Autism spectrum clinic on site that I could volunteer at, since that’s the target population that I want to work with later,” she said. Russells’s favorite memory of Southern Miss was participating in British Studies this past summer, something she would urge any student to do, while her biggest regret was not joining more clubs or getting more involved in college.
Skye Gravenstuk, a communication studies major and French minor, has been at Southern Miss since her freshman year in 2012. Her experiences at Southern Miss have influenced her post-graduation desires.
“I was able to study abroad in France my freshman year and that experience was one of the most incredible of my life so far– even almost three years later I don’t feel like I have a vocabulary sufficient enough to describe how meaningful it was,” she said.
Although Gravenstuk is unsure exactly what her plans will be after December, she is currently waiting to interview for the Peace Corps, and, if selected, will leave the United States in June. Until then, “My most honest plans are to sleep, sleep, sleep,” Gravenstuk said.
“This is an end of an era,” Dawne Kennedy, a foreign languages and history double major said. “I’ve given 100 percent of my time to school. I’ve been involved in different academic programs, scholarships, research and clubs. I’ve made a lot of friends, and I’ve been supported by the best mentors in the world. This became my home, and it’s bittersweet to know I’m leaving in just a few short weeks.”
Kennedy, a student at Southern Miss since 2010, will be attending graduate school in the fall in pursuit of a Masters and Ph.D. en route to becoming a professor.
When asked if she had any regrets about her time at Southern Miss, Kennedy answered that she had none. “I took advantage of every opportunity USM offered,” she said. “But if there were any, I would have to say I would have loved to have had another year just to take all the classes I didn’t have time to take.”
Overall, the senior class presents a mixture of optimism about their futures and nostalgia for the years past.
“Graduating is scary and wonderful,” Gravenstuk said. “It’s heartbreaking to be leaving behind so many wonderful people and organizations, but I’m also thrilled to be entering the next chapter of my life.”