December Graduates Ready to Tackle the 'Real World'
Right about now, most Hampton University students have just started the spring semester. The seniors are counting down the days until May and looking forward to the future. However, for some students the future is now. While many Hamptonians graduate in May, some finish their matriculation during the holiday season.
Public relations major Juston Washington is a member of the class of 2009, and graduated in December. “At first, I was mad that I had to stay, but then I saw the bright side,” he said. “I have more time to prepare for my career.”
Though he knew the extra semester was necessary, Washington had some concerns. “I was worried about not having my peers around, feeling old on campus, and not feeling the same excitement and about social events,” he said.
However, Washington is happy to say his fears didn’t come to fruition. “It’s not as bad as I thought,” he said. “I’ve had more time to focus on finding a job and a career. I definitely feel more prepared now.”
Washington has received job offers from State Farm Insurance and Pinnacle Anesthesia Consultants.
Broadcast major Erin Jenkins is another Ogre who graduated in December. Jenkins participated in the prestigious Semester in Washington program through the Scripps Howard Foundation in which she spent a semester interning in Washington, D.C. and attending a seminar class at American University.
“It taught me a lot about what I wanted to do: journalism involving social injustice,” she said.
Even knowing that she would have another semester to complete, Jenkins didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the program. “I knew it was a great opportunity, I needed an internship to graduate, and it was in my hometown of Washington, D.C.!”
However, Jenkins does admit that she shares some of Washington’s feelings. “I do miss my class,” she said. “When I’m on campus, I do feel a disconnect because the Ogres aren’t here.”
Jenkins is excited to be concluding this chapter of her life. “I want to get into documentary-style filmmaking, and I definitely feel that Scripps equipped me with the skills to go out and do the stories I want to do. I don’t have to work for anyone, I can work for myself,” she said.
Some December graduates finished their studies ahead of schedule. Business Administration Major Edwin Jones finished all his classes and requirements a semester early. “It was always my goal to have this option,” he said. “I wanted to explore other grad school options.”
Jones isn’t worried about missing out on the senior activities in the spring. “I’ve had a pretty complete experience,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll miss anything.”
Jones has many options to choose from after he graduates. He recently interviewed with Teach for America and is also considering pursuing a J.D./M.B.A. degree, or working for the KPMG accounting firm where he has interned for the past two summers.
Print journalism major Kalesha Kennedy has also been planning to graduate early since her freshman year. “I came in with 31 credits so at first I was planning on graduating a year early. Then I considered a double major. Then I decided on a semester early,” she said.
Unlike Jones, Kennedy does anticipate that she will miss out on some activities. “I missed a lot anyway, and I feel left out knowing there’s a lot I’m not going to be a part of,” she said. The mother of two advises her peers to get involved. “I regret that I didn’t get involved because I felt that I didn’t fit in.”
Kennedy, who was one of the first recipients of the Michael A. Battle scholarship, advises future graduates to carefully consider graduating early. “It’s not for everybody,” she said. “You have to decide what’s best for you, especially in this economy.”
Kennedy is considering job prospects in Newport News and Washington, D.C.
Many who graduate earlier or later than the average undergraduate have different circumstance and different experiences. However, these four students all agree on one thing. They’ll all be back to “walk” in May.