Excitement, pride and anticipation
Photos by Evan Krape May 27, 2023
UD graduates reflect on college years and the future
Graduation — the culmination of four years of hard work — is accompanied by so many emotions: excitement, pride, bittersweetness, anticipation for the future. At the University of Delaware’s Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 27, several graduates reflected on the end of their college careers, what it means to be a Blue Hen, and what the future holds.
Nick Minard, who earned a bachelor of science in financial planning, said he’s proud of everything he’s accomplished at UD.
“It feels great knowing that all the work and everything that I put in during my time here was worth it,” he said. “Knowledge is something you can’t really put a price on. It’s still kind of sad — I’m not a kid anymore and I’ve got to move into adult life. But everyone moves to this stage in life, so it’s nice.”
Matthew Kempski, who earned a bachelor of science in human services with an administration and family policy concentration, said getting to know his professors was critical to his success at UD and will be helpful in his future career.
“[Graduating is] just another step to being introduced to the adulting world,” he said. “There’s so much ahead of me. What I got out of UD was making a lot of friends, making a lot of connections, networking, learning, getting to know my professors. It was a wonderful experience.”
Kayla Jones, who earned a bachelor of science in medical laboratory science, said she was looking forward to turning the tassel, officially becoming an alumna and celebrating with family and friends.
“It took a lot to get here, and I feel very proud,” she said. “This has been a great experience. Just sitting here right now, it feels amazing because I know all my hard work and dedication was for this moment.”
She added, “To be a Blue Hen, it means to be strong and to always do your best, never give up, be brave, keep pushing yourself to reach boundaries you never thought you could reach.”
Amanda Leonhard, who earned a bachelor of science in medical laboratory science major, is from Newark, Delaware, and always knew she wanted to be a Blue Hen.
“It feels surreal to be here now,” she said. “It’s the culmination of all our hard work, and it's just so nice to celebrate all the hard work that we've put in.”
Maxum Rhode, who earned a bachelor of arts in psychology, said he was proud of himself and his classmates for making the most of the, at times, tumultuous four years.
“It feels scary. It feels exciting — there are a lot of emotions,” he said. “But overall, I'm just proud of myself for getting here.”
Julia Brice, who earned a bachelor of science in health behavior science, said she’s proud of all she’s accomplished and is looking forward to continuing her tenure at UD next year in the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program.
“It's really exciting,” she said. “The last four years have been really hard, but I'm proud of how I've gotten here and all the hard work I've put into my education. It’s really rewarding, and I’m really proud of being a part of this University.”
Her advice to future Blue Hens: “Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. There are a lot of opportunities to explore here, and you can't really get anywhere unless you put yourself out there and take advantage of those opportunities.”
The last time the Class of 2023 gathered together was during the Twilight Induction Ceremony in the fall of 2019. Jacob Herz, who earned a bachelor of arts in media communication, was excited to reunite with the rest of his class and graduate among his peers.
“It's cool to see all the people who have joined you on this journey,” he said.
Hailey Selhorst, who earned a bachelor of science in medical diagnostics with a pre-physician assistant concentration, said she was looking forward to being with her friends and classmates one last time before everyone goes their separate ways.
“Relieving, fun, exciting,” she said, describing what it feels like to graduate. “It’s just the time of our lives and a time to celebrate.”
Anjali Das, who earned a bachelor of science in medical diagnostics with a pre-physician assistant concentration, offered a piece of advice for younger students.
“Enjoy it, because it flew by for me. It’s surreal,” she said. “Over the past four years I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself — what I like, what I value.”
Rajani Shrestha, who earned a master of science in geology, is a first-generation student from Nepal and will be pursuing a doctorate in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology.
“I’m a little bit nervous to go on to the next step, but I feel a sense of accomplishment that I did so much in two years,” she said. “One thing that I’m very proud of is coming to the U.S. to get a degree.”
She added, “To be a Blue Hen means to find your flock, and I have certainly found my flock here. I’ve met so many good friends here. They don’t judge me for who I am, and I can really be myself here.”
Melinda Bahruth, who is also a first-generation college student and earned a master of science in geology, said she is looking forward to using her degree to make an impact in the world.
“It’s relieving,” she said. “I feel like I've been in school for so long, and I'm just excited to use the skills that I have gotten here to contribute to society. I'm really excited.”