December graduation offers seniors reflection

This weekend Gannon University will host its annual Winter Commencement, where President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., will award 210 diplomas.

The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, followed by a reception for graduates and their families in the Waldron Campus Center’s Yehl Ballroom.

According to Nick Pronko, media relations officer at Gannon, only some of the 210 diplomas will be awarded Sunday. “Not all of the graduates will attend the ceremony,” he said, “which obviously is normal.”

This number is just slightly lower than last year’s 219 winter graduates.

Of the 210 students graduating Sunday, Pronko said, there are 80 bachelor’s degrees, 122 masters, four Ph.D.s, one doctor of physical therapy and three associate degrees. Seventy-eight of the students graduating are from the College of Engineering and Business, while 56 are from the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences and 32 come from the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences.

David W. Grzelak, a 1976 graduate of Gannon’s Master of Business Administration program, will be speaking at Sunday’s commencement ceremony. He will also earn an honorary degree.

One undergraduate student walking this weekend is senior business administration major Olivia Colonello. She said that although she’s glad to be on her way, she will miss the university once she’s gone.

“I think the biggest thing I’ll miss about Gannon is how friendly the faculty and staff has been,” Colonello said.

But she also said she will miss the friends she’s made at the university. “If I could I’d stay here just for the social aspect, as long as I don’t have to take any classes, I would,” she said.

Another winter graduate, senior English major Courtney McGraw, expressed similar feelings toward her time at Gannon. “I will miss the faculty and the great friends I’ve made here,” she said. “The Gannon community, especially the English department, has become family to me.”

Although neither Colonello nor McGraw have immediate full-time employment plans post graduation, both planned to leave Erie in pursuit of their goals.

Colonello will be going home to Mars, Pa., to work at Giant Eagle until she finds a way to pursue her career goal.

“I do plan to do lots of job searching with all the time I’ll have,” she said. “I do know what I want to do, but getting there is going to be difficult because I didn’t study what it is I really want to do.  I’d like to go into hospitality and tourism and someday work in a resort as an event and wedding planner.”

McGraw, meanwhile, plans to move to Florida to pursue a master’s degree. “I feel that this would be the perfect time to branch out on my own,” she said.

McGraw said her ultimate goal is to teach linguistics or English at the collegiate level.

Both students said that commencement brings with it a new set of nerves, too. While Colonello said she is just hoping she will be able to find a good job so she can pay off her school loans, McGraw said she is nervous to start over again at a new school.

“I am a little nervous that the next college I go to will be completely different from Gannon,” McGraw said. “I’m scared I might not feel as accepted or just feel lost all together.”

Overall, though, both students expressed more joy than sadness regarding this weekend’s commencement ceremony.

“I’m really looking forward to just graduating and celebrating with friends and family,” Colonello said. “Knowing that Christmas this year I’ll be done with school is the greatest feeling ever.”

 

KELLY MORELAND

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