A host of first and last for USF grads

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2007: This is it – are you ready?I know I am.

It’s almost time to walk across the Sun Dome stage, shake USF President Judy Genshaft’s hand and get that little piece of paper that has so much hard work and money invested into it – yet will not actually be received until it’s delivered through the mail a few weeks after graduation.

Prior to the ceremony, graduates are going to experience a series of lasts: the last time they’ll have to cram (or study diligently) for a final, the last time they’ll sit outside of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center and enjoy lunch with friends as a USF student and finally – this may be the best of them all – the last time they’ll have to hunt for a parking spot at the Sun Dome or any of the outer reaches of campus.

For some, the thought of college ending might bring about a mishmash of feelings – exciting yet bittersweet, expected yet bewildering, euphoric yet blue.

Such feelings may have those about to leave “these hallowed halls” feeling a bit wobbly, and that is understandable. These young men and women about to graduate have been working toward that aforementioned piece of paper for the past four years (or five, or even six for some), and now it’s suddenly over.

They are probably wondering how the time went by so fast – or maybe why it seemed like the four longest years of their lives. Even the spring 2007 semester surely seemed like an infinite abyss that could not be traversed at the start – and now most graduates have made it to the other side virtually unscathed.

As their time at one of Florida’s up-and-coming public universities is coming to an incredulous end, the lasts are about to give way to a series of firsts for the graduates – a first “real” job, first new car or house – and then, coming along to take all the fun out of these firsts: the first student loan bill.

But it is in these firsts – and in those lasts – that the graduates-to-be will find out (and have found out) what they’re made of. Each person’s journey through college was not easy and most certainly came with some sort of sacrifice. My sacrifice came in the form of having a somewhat diminished social life due to working two jobs to support my education and my future career. Though I may have missed out on some things – parties, dinners and road trips – I have also gained a lot.

I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anyone else’s – I would be remiss to do so. Each person needs to go through certain things to prepare him or her for what’s to come, so I needed to do college the way I did to be ready for my future. Even though all of this year’s graduates may have arrived at the destination in different ways, they all have discovered the same thing on the road to a degree: They can do it.

Amanda Whitsitt is a senior majoring in mass communications.