Changes loom for graduating students

With only 81 days until Spring Commencement, Gannon University seniors all seem to be asking themselves the same question: how will life change after graduation?

With the prospect of jobs and graduate school — not to mention landlords, bills and loan repayment — a looming laundry list of post-grad changes seem to be quickly approaching the class of 2012.

Gannon couples have even more to consider; namely, how these changes in their daily lives will impact their relationships, and how they will adjust to this major period of transition. At least three of Gannon’s couples, however, feel confident that they have what it takes to hold their relationships together — and all three pairs could be shifting to long-distance relationships by the time summer rolls around.

Erika Greco, a junior communication arts major, and Bill Colt, a senior biology major, said they have been dating for five months. They like attending Gannon together, Greco said, because they can easily see each other every day, which cuts down on stress.

Colt agreed, saying that he only lives a few blocks away from Greco. “It’s definitely nice to be closer at Gannon,” he said. “If we were on a bigger campus, we might have to go much farther to see each other.”

Emily Zeszutek, a junior nursing major, and Steve Huether, a senior finance major, also said that dating at the same college is convenient, but can present challenges, as well. Having dated for two years at Gannon, the couple said that they also like being able to see each other frequently. Zeszutek said that she enjoys being able to visit Huether whenever she is having a bad day.

“I can go over to his house, and he can cheer me up,” she said. “But, at the same time, you can get annoyed much more easily spending so much time together.”

Huether said that the couples’ close proximity is ideal for spending time together, and that spending time apart on breaks enhances their relationship.

The veterans of the three pairs, Emily Wright and Robby Frantz, both senior electrical engineering majors, have been dating upwards of 2 1/2 — more than half of their Gannon careers. Wright said that she might not have met Frantz without the help of Gannon’s smaller, close-knit campus.

The pair met through their common major, Wright said, which requires them to take all of the same classes. Frantz said that dating at the same school makes things easier on the couple, and that he and Wright see each other every day.

The couples have found that the size of Gannon’s campus has made their relationships more visible to the college community. Greco said that when she travels around campus, people often ask about her and Colt. Colt agreed, saying, “There’s a more tight-knit community here at Gannon, so people know us as being a couple.”

Wright also commented on how the Gannon community frequently identifies her with Frantz. “Even the Doc’s lady who checks us out every morning asks where he is if he isn’t with me,” she said. “And John Coleman always asks, ‘Where’s your other half?’”

All three couples’ habitual presence around Gannon will soon be disturbed, however, by this May’s commencement exercises. With Colt, Huether, Wright and Frantz all walking across the stage this spring, the three pairs are starting to think about the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Colt said that he plans to pursue master’s degree in public health, but he won’t be able to do so in Erie, as the program isn’t offered at any local universities. “I’m looking at Pitt and Drexel, and I’m not sure that our relationship will be affected by where I applied,” he said. “I don’t want to go too far anyway, and I knew that I’d be out of Erie, regardless.”

Greco said that adjusting to not seeing Colt every day will be difficult, but that she is confident the couple can make the switch. “I’ve done long distance before, and it will only be for a year,” she said.

Zeszutek and Huether, another junior/senior couple, are waiting to see how Huether’s job search pans out before making any concrete plans about how they will maintain their relationship. Huether said that he has been applying for jobs in several locations, including Erie, Rochester, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. “I have no idea where I’ll end up,” he said. “We’ll see where the wind blows, and I’ll take it one day at a time.”

Zeszutek said that she doesn’t want Huether to make any job decisions based on her while she remains at Gannon for another year. “I want him to do what he wants to do,” she said. “When I graduate, we can see if we’re still together, and go from there.”

Zeszutek added that she thinks it would be more stressful if she and Huether were both graduating this spring — a challenge that Wright and Frantz will face in the coming months.

Frantz said that he has secured a job in Pittsfield, Mass. where he will begin working in mid-June. Wright is currently job hunting, and said that she is applying for jobs in Pennsylvania and its surrounding states. She has looked into engineering job opportunities in Pittsfield, she said, but the chance that she’ll actually be able to find a job there is slim to none.

The couple, however, seems confident that their relationship will hold up under the pressure of long distance communication. “We’ll both be able to make money now, so it’s not like we won’t be able to travel,” Frantz said. He also pointed out that Pittsfield is only a short flight from surrounding cities.

“We live two hours away from each other now, back at home, so I’m not too worried about it,” he said. Wright agreed, saying that Pittsfield is only about a 45-minute flight from anywhere she’s been looking for jobs.

Greco and Colt, who are also planning on experiencing distance over the next year, said that they don’t foresee any problems resulting from this change in their relationship.

“It will be a big transition, but I’m not worried about it,” Colt said. “We’ll probably just have to play it by ear.”

Zeszutek and Huether, who are uncertain about whether or not they will have long distance in their future, also do not anticipate having any issues in their relationship. Both have experienced long distance relationships before, Zeszutek said.

“I think it would be just getting used to not seeing each other as much, but I don’t think it would be a huge problem,” she said. “I think it would also give us an opportunity to look more forward to seeing each other.”

Though the couples’ plans about distance have yet to be finalized, like many members of the senior class, time still remains to enjoy the rest of the semester at Gannon. And, regardless of how much distance each of the couples will be facing in the coming year, they all expressed excitement about the prospect of supporting each other in the beginning of a post-graduation career — a positive indication toward each pair’s journey ahead.


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