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Graduates line up for Commencement
Graduates line up for the University of Delaware's 168th Commencement.

Commencement reflections

Photo by Evan Krape

Graduates share excitement, plans for future

Melinda Weaver of Milford, Delaware, and Leah Deter of York, Pennsylvania, met for the first time when the University of Delaware assigned them to be freshman year roommates.

Four years later, on Saturday, May 27, the two were together again at UD’s 2017 Commencement ceremony, celebrating their graduation, their close continuing friendship and the successful college experience that they almost couldn’t believe had come to an end.

Like many of the new UD graduates, Weaver and Deter said Commencement was a time of excitement, tinged with nostalgia.

“I’m looking forward to starting my life and my career,” said Weaver, an elementary education graduate who will be teaching second grade in the fall. “But we’re also thinking about all the people we’re going to be saying goodbye to.”

Deter, who earned her degree in biological sciences, agreed that the mood for most graduates could be summed up as “excited but a little sad to be leaving.”

Mark Nichols of Wilmington, Delaware, graduating with a degree in mass communication, was thinking about faculty members who encouraged and inspired him, including Lydia Timmins, assistant professor of communication, and Nancy Karibjanian, director of the Center for Political Communication. Nichols also recalled his initial visit to the University, when its size was a bit intimidating.

“The first time I stepped on campus, I remember how big it seemed,” he said. “But it got smaller and smaller as I spent time here and really felt at home. I never thought the four years would go by so fast.”

Madeline Halkowski of Unionville, Pennsylvania, known to her friends as Scout, was the model of perseverance as she navigated her way through the Commencement crowds on crutches, the result of a rock-climbing injury. The day was especially meaningful to her, she said.

“I have a learning disability, so it took me longer than some other people to graduate,” said Halkowski, who graduated with a major in psychology and a minor in disabilities studies and will begin a master’s degree program in leadership in the fall. “I’m very excited to be here.”

Also looking ahead to graduate studies was Boxi Liu, who came to UD from Harbin, China, to study art conservation and will pursue a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania next year.

Liu came to UD because of the international reputation of its “distinguished art conservation program,” and his experience proved that to be justified, he said. During his undergraduate years, he studied abroad in Japan and in Italy, where he also did a conservation internship working with sculpture in Sardinia.

For Megan Aidoo of Bear, Delaware, her honors degree in medical diagnostics is the latest step toward the goal she set for herself in third grade of becoming a pediatrician some day.

“I’m so excited to be here at Commencement,” said Aidoo, who will enroll at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in the fall. “The best part is thinking about the next step in all our lives.”

Annie Nunes first came to UD thinking that she would know most of her fellow students because the University is only a few miles from her home in Pike Creek, Delaware. But, she said, the best surprise was “meeting so many new people and making so many new friends” during the four years that “went by incredibly fast.”

Nunes will soon begin her career as a nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital. As she waited for the Commencement ceremony to begin, she reflected on the past four years and the tight-knit group of students in the nursing program who got to know one another well. The UD program and faculty provided a great education for all of them, she said.

“I really feel like they prepared us very well,” Nunes said. “I’m confident that I’m going to be a good nurse.”

Harrison Leavitt, who earned a degree in management and marketing, called his experience “a fantastic four years.” And, with a sales job already lined up with a tech company near his home in Boston, he said, “That’s all I can ask for. UD did its job.”

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