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McNeese State graduates record class

Last Modified: Saturday, May 18, 2013 9:01 PM

By Alex Onken / Special to the American Press

Watch out for flying mortarboards and tassels.

McNeese Sate University’s spring commencement ceremony took place at 10 o’clock in the morning on Saturday at Burton Coliseum. Friends, family, fellow students, and McNeese faculty gathered to celebrate the end of a four-year journey for some, others even longer.

“It’s been a good experience. I’ve been able to play four years of college basketball, met some really good people. Traveled a lot, been around to several different schools in the area. I ended up coming home and finishing up at McNeese. It’s been a wonderful journey and I’m excited for it to be finally over,” said Rickie Dixon, graduating with a degree in Health and Human performance.

“I’m not as nervous as I though I was going to be. I’m really excited,” said Bethany McGee, graduating with a degree in psychology.

This graduation was McNeese’s biggest graduating class, yet, with a 869 graduates in total.

“The place was packed,” said Alex Fremaux. “This was a big one.”

During his welcome speech, Dr. Phillip C. Williams, the president of McNeese State University had this to share with the new graduates:

“You will be receiving [with a college diploma] something much far deeper than money. When you pulled together your notes to study for that final exam in that especially challenging course, you not only learned the topics for that one course. You learned some major skills that will translate in any career you choose to pursue when the classroom instructor is replaced with a workplace supervisor, and your classmates are replaced with colleagues.”

Also at the spring commencement ceremony were “golden scholars” who represented the class of 1963, who wished to be once again a part of a graduation ceremony.

After the ceremony, recent graduates explained the feeling of walking to obtain their diploma after all their hard work.

“It was right whenever we walked in that I got really excited. All the noise and being there just made me realize that I was actually graduating,” said Victoria Carnes, a nursing graduate.

“It was refreshing,” says Blaire Derouen when she walked to receive her diploma in general studies. “Those four years really paid off. I feel accomplished”

“Graduating was exciting,” says Mallory Daire, a nursing graduate. “ Something I’ve been looking forward to, and I worked really hard for. It was a long wait. I’m proud of my graduating class, especially the college of nursing.”

When asked many graduates had either found work, decided on grad-school, or already had a job. Though some graduates had different plans.

“I’m actually going straight into grad-school,” said McGee on her post graduate plans.

“I have a job offer; but, I ‘m not going to take it,” said Crystal Batiste-Lee, graduating with a degree in criminal justice. “I don’t want to move.”

“I’m taking a break! I need it. I took eighteen hours to finish up my degree; but, I plan on going back to get my masters,” said Dixon.

“I’m going to go on vacation. Then, I’m going to take my NCLEX, which is the nursing exam that you have to take when you want to get licensed, and then find a job,” said Carnes.

Some grads offered advice to students students still in college.

“I’d like to thank my lord and father, Jesus Christ. I’m just really excited and happy for all the graduates. McNeese isn’t an easy school. It takes hard work to finish it [a degree], and I’m glad to have finished mine,” said Dixon.

“Don’t rush, it’s not really that big of a deal. Enjoy it. Don’t let it pass too fast,” said McGee. “I’ve seen people really struggle during their four years here.”

“Ask five people before you make a final decision. One person could tell you something that could be wrong. Always find the average answer.” Katelyn Soileau, an education graduate.

I’m a mother, I have seven children, and I’m married and I’m 31,” said Batiste-Lee. “I just want to say never give up on your dreams. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”

“Today you are not just graduates,” sated Dr. Williams. “You are adults in a society that needs your skills and your passion more than ever.”

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