During graduation, many University of Alabama students find themselves deciding between walking or not walking.
For many students, the choice to walk at commencement is rooted in tradition but most importantly to avoid regret.
Margaret Coats, a senior majoring in management and marketing, said at first she decided to opt out of walking since she would start graduate school in the fall, but eventually she realized she was making the wrong call.
“I didn’t want to have any regrets about my four years here,” Coats said. “I am going to grad school, but I have worked really hard for four years, and I deserve a celebration.”
Coats said graduation also gives students a chance to celebrate with family who undoubtedly play a major role in most students’ achievements.
“My parents have played a critical role in my successes in college, and graduation gives us a chance to celebrate all our contributions to my past four years at the Capstone,” she said.
Coats said even though not all of the seniors had interactions with each other while at the University, they have still belonged to the UA class of 2013 for four years.
“This is our chance to be all in the same place celebrating our successes over the past four years,” she said. “Graduating from college is something that many people don’t have the opportunity to do, so this is definitely cause for celebration.”
Another student, Julia Gardial, a senior majoring in public relations, said one reason she decided to opt out of walking was because her family is so scattered.
“It didn’t make sense for me to ask them to pay to come down here just so that they could watch me walk and sit in the Alabama heat then head home,” Gardial said. “I’m actually moving to Atlanta for a job on the 3rd, so I won’t even be in Alabama the day I’m supposed to graduate anyways.”
Gardial said she planned to celebrate by eating a nice dinner and having a movie night while she unpacked in her new home.
David Wilson, a senior majoring in economics, said he too would be unable to walk at his graduation because of a recent job offer.
“I just found out last week that I got in Teach for America, and I may have to leave as early as a week and a half for New York City,” Wilson said. “It’s a tough time to plan things, so I am literally figuring it out as I go.”
Because he’s not going to walk, Wilson said he hasn’t even begun to think about graduation announcements.
“I might try to go do something with my family like a family trip,” he said. “It’s so funny to think I haven’t even thought of these things when it’s right around the corner.”
A recent alumna from the University, Abigail Wood, who graduated in May 2012 with a degree in business management, said it’s important to walk at graduation because it’s a sign of accomplishment.
“It’s literally the icing on the cake of your degree, the best part,” Wood said. “It’s also important because it’s a celebration, for not just you personally, but for friends and family, the people who helped support you through trying times, to help you celebrate the good ones.”
Wood said the main reason she decided to walk at her ceremony was for her family.
“I was acknowledging that without their support, I wouldn’t have been in that position,” she said. “If I had opted out, I’m sure I’d regret it, because I know in the back of my mind it would never feel like I had actually reached the finish line.”