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Families, our college seniors are ready … are we?

FLORENCE — It’s that time of year … seniors, mine included, are finishing their final projects, doing photo shoots at iconic campus locations, and planning graduation parties and trips.

Thirty years ago, I was getting ready for graduation from UNA, too. A lot has changed since then – you can no longer drive through the middle of campus, there are no cheese sticks in the student union food court, and we had black caps and gowns. Now students have cell phones, social media, online classes and mobile food ordering. (Let’s be real … I’m glad three of those four weren’t mainstream when I was in college.)

I can’t wait for my daughter to feel the joy of walking across the stage and shaking North Alabama President Ken Kitts’ hand. And I want her to hear the joy her family and friends feel as we see her get that diploma.

Like most university students, she has faced difficulties and handled most of them with grace. From starting her freshman year with lots of COVID-19 precautions, to sophomore year filled with new friends; from junior year and sharing her story in newspapers and on television, to senior year with her Senior Night dance team recognition and honor society cord ceremonies, these past four years have been an adventure.

I imagine it’s been much the same for your student, too. Friendships, breakups, new jobs, old resumes, big projects, group work, exams, studying, and now it’s almost over.

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy. And also sad. Which combines into sappy. “Bittersweet” is probably the better word. We’ve spent most of our lives working to make sure they get here and now that they have … what’s next? Not only for them but also for us?

If this graduating senior is your last, or your only, like mine, you may feel a little let down, a little out of sorts.

Now that college is wrapping up, what do we do when we don’t have anyone calling us to discuss the tyranny of taking tests on Lockdown Browser? Or intermittent campus WiFi? Or lack of parking?

When we don’t feel the need to check that they got home safely from that late-night party? When we don’t get those texts asking us to put $50 on their debit card for groceries? (Because now they have a real job and don’t have to ask us for money.)

We thought sending our kids off to college would be tough. Wait until they graduate and don’t come back home because they have their own, non-university, place! Wait, what?! I’m not ready for that.

Thankfully, I still have a little time, especially with rental costs the way they are. 

Until the day comes when she moves out completely because she’s “grown,” I’m going to savor every phone call, every lunch date, every request for 50 bucks for groceries, and every text I get from my girl.

When May 11 rolls around and she’s in her purple robe and mortarboard, with her honor cords and stoles, and she steps out onto UNA’s Norton Auditorium stage, I’ll be ready. 

And when she moves that tassel from one side to the other, my heart will be bursting with joy and pride, and my eyes will be brimming with tears, ready to see what’s next for my girl.

How about you? Are you ready to send your graduate out into the world? Let’s commiserate and celebrate together.

Commencement Dates

  • Alabama A&M University – Friday 
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville – May 6
  • Calhoun Community College – May 9
  • Northwest Shoals Community College – May 9
  • University of North Alabama – May 10 and 11
  • Drake State Community & Technical College – May 11 
  • Oakwood University – May 11

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