Seniors share plans for final night in Tuscaloosa

Hannah Widener

For many students the last night before graduation flies by without a second thought, but for others, it is one final moment to spend with friends and truly celebrate the end of an era.

Kyle Zimmerman, a senior majoring in political science, said the decision between spending time with family and friends has been tough. With many of his friends in the U.S. Air Force ROTC going off in different directions after college, this will be his last night to see all of them before they part ways.

“I’ll miss the community and having things so close together, where if I need help on a test or just need a friend, I can call them up and they’ll be there in five minutes,” he said. “I know I’ll have a little bit of that later on because the Air Force is a tight-knit group of people, but it’s just not going to be the same.”

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Zimmerman, a Pratville, Ala. native, said he will return to Tuscaloosa to visit his brother and a couple of his old friends. Events such as A-Day, homecoming and football games are what will bring him back, he said. Saturday tailgates on the Quad are what Zimmerman will miss most.

“My favorite memory would have to be this past fall hanging out with my friends at the tailgate on Saturdays,” he said. “It was always the one day where friends and family would get together. I know it was about football, but it was really more about friendship.”

While graduation is a time of great happiness and pride, it is also be a time of “lasts” for many UA students. Kevin Duque, a senior majoring in business, said he wants to spend as much time as possible with friends before he takes the summer off to travel before dental school.

“During the day, I’m going to play a soccer game with my friends one last time before we all go our separate ways,” he said. “We’re in a tournament right now, but I want to make sure I hang out with everybody before I leave. At night I plan on sleeping over with my friends and just talking and watching a movie before we all go to bed.”

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Tiara Dees, a graduate student in marketing and management, said she has plans to do things a little differently by spending time with family rather than friends for her second graduation. She plans to stay in and play video games with her family just as she would on any normal night, she said.

Post-graduation, Dees will be joining many other UA graduates in the job hunt. She said she has found many job leads including one at Headless Chicken Games, a small game development company in Costa Rica. While Dees has learned many lessons from being student at the University that will help her later in life, one of the biggest lessons she said she has learned is perseverance.

“The biggest lesson I have taken away from college is that I can do anything I set my mind to,” she said. “I have been a self-supporting student since my undergrad, and getting through college has been a challenge for me in many ways. College taught me to work harder than I ever have before as well as to continue to strive for my goals and dreams.”

Like Dees, Zimmerman said his college experience was characterized by four years of hard work, an aspect of college that he said would be one the things he will miss most after graduation.

Zimmerman and Duque both said they agree that in college, it is important not to take things for granted whether it be time, friendship or education.

“I think the biggest lesson I’ve taken away is not taking anything for granted, more specifically academically,” Zimmerman said. “Right now, I’m at the point where I have two weeks left before I graduate and finish my college career … I’m going to miss those times that it may have sucked to read a book in one week, but I know I’m going to yearn for that knowledge when it’s gone.”

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