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A Bittersweet Road to Completion: Here's to the Fall 2018 Graduates

by Andrea Corona

The 2016 Commencement. (File Photo by Jared Bernacchia

Whatever the road to graduation, completing your undergraduate degree is a bittersweet feeling. Some students will put on a cap and gown, take part in senior week activities, wait for friends and family to come and attend commencement. Others take down the pictures, string lights and curtains that converted a simple dorm into a home, turn in their keys, and drive off campus.

This is the case for the few hundred students who finish all their coursework mid-year, the minority group of fall graduates at Purchase.

For those graduating early, the spring semester provides time to find jobs and transition into the post-grad unknown. “I feel great, and I’m proud of myself for accomplishing what I have,” says Duane Joseph Olson, a theatre and performance and screenwriting double major. Finishing mid-year is an opportunity for Olson to figure out what life will look life beyond Purchase.

Even with those months allotted to navigating the possibilities, some nervousness comes up. “I’m feeling some anxieties, but nothing about the ‘real world.’’ Says Olson. “My only bad feelings right now stem from me worrying about whether or not I’ve reaped college of all its benefits. Is there a class I didn’t take that I should have taken? Where there connections to make that I passed up?”

Courtney Lykins, an art history major, echoes feelings of gratefulness for graduating early. “It’s nice to feel like I have a little time to sort things out, I don’t know exactly what I’m doing post grad,” says Lykins.

On the other hand, her last few days at Purchase were anything but relaxing. “I do feel much more overwhelmed with my workload and a little overlooked by the administration,” she says.

Because mid-year graduates are a minority there has never been a fall commencement at

Purchase, according to a registrar administrator. The possibility of one happening in the near future is unlikely.  When the seniors interviewed for this story were asked if they would attend a fall commencement, most said they would. 

For those graduating late, the feeling of completion can be more bitter than sweet. Annona Giam, a second semester painting and drawing major, says that she would be more interested in a fall commencement anyway. “It would be more appealing than the one in spring because it would be smaller.” For Giam, the feeling of disconnection about is very familiar. “It’s bittersweet to finish but I also feel like no one cares,” says Giam.

She explains that at the end of the spring semester, the senior painting majors have their work all over the building, there is attention brought to the event, and sometimes the press is involved. “I only hung my work in the hallway with no indication that it was a senior show or even my work,” she says.

This general sensation of being overlooked seems to grow from missing out on certain aspects of the experience. Like having a reception with your classmates and showing your close ones a culmination of your work, whether a recital or a senior exhibition. Maybe walking with the ones who were there, the friends who pulled all-nighters and walked back from The Stood with you. The ones who worried about the same final but somehow you both passed. 

“All the people I’d consider my closest friends at Purchase graduated before me,” says journalism major Noah Wade. “Now that I have been off campus for almost a year I feel really disconnected from the place so I’m not sure I’ll want to come back (to walk in May). My family wants me to do it, but right now it’s just not something I see myself being excited about.” Wade was on track to graduate last spring, but health issues prevented him from completing his work load. Despite the unexpected challenges, he found a way to finish. He worked full-time this semester while taking the last few credits he needed, which included his senior project.

Now, he sees the light at the other end of the tunnel. “I’m happy that I’m finishing up now because it’s the holiday season and I can finally breathe a little bit and enjoy my favorite time of the year,” Wade says. “I’m also just really ready to move on. Have a little fun first before jumping into whatever is next for me.”

Editor’s note: Andrea Rivera-Corona is among those Purchase seniors graduating in the fall. The Phoenix wishes all fall graduates congratulations. Come back and walk with the rest of us in May!



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