COLUMBIA — Waiting in the lobby of Jesse Auditorium, Amanda Killday flicks the gold tassel dangling in front of her eyes.
“I’m just so excited to get it over with,” she said. “There’s nothing hanging over my head.”
Killday was one of the 53 graduates of the Sinclair School of Nursing standing in cap and gown waiting for their diplomas Friday.
“I’m asking for a really nice picture frame for Christmas,” Killday said of her diploma. Next, she will be pursuing a doctorate of nursing practice at MU. She participated in the nursing school's online program while working at Boone Hospital Center.
Relief and excitement was the tone among graduates as they reflected on their time at MU and discussed their plans for the future.
"I'm just so happy school's done — for the short term," said Brian Openlander, also graduating from the nursing school. "I plan to attend grad school in some field, maybe clinical psychology or nursing."
"This is such a big accomplishment. I'm very proud," said Tara Parsons, a graduate student sitting in the audience.
Upon hearing the name of Andrea Glatz, Parsons stood and cheered along with four friends. Glatz, who is from Columbia, was graduating with magna cum laude honors and will go to work for MU Health Care in Columbia.
"She has a job. That's good," Parsons said.
Still, some have other plans with their new degrees.
“I’m not ready,” said Missouri School of Journalism graduate Katlyn Keller. “I’m joining the Peace Corps.”
On Dec. 16, MyMissourian reported that Columbia is ranked fourth among metro areas for producing corps volunteers.
This weekend, 1,994 students will be awarded degrees at MU commencement ceremonies. The breakdown is:
- 2,136 total degrees, including dual degrees
- 1,487 bachelor's degrees
- 454 master's degrees
- 168 doctoral degrees
- 17 educational specialist degrees
- 10 professional degrees, which include law, medicine and veterinary medicine
Those numbers pale in comparison to MU's most recent May graduation, when the university granted 5,532 degrees.
At the Trulaske School of Business commencement ceremony at the Hearnes Center, Matt Bruns graduated after three-and-a-half years at MU.
"I came to Mizzou with a lot of credits from high school," he said. "Dropping a minor that was too boring gave me time to graduate early."
The gravity of the day had not yet sunk in for graduate Derrick Myers.
"I'm sure I'll feel it when I see the fans," he said before walking onto the arena floor to the applause and camera flashes of graduates' friends and families.
"I'm definitely nervous," Myers said, adding that the business school had, "groomed me into a professional person."
Myers said he has been offered a job in the airline industry.
For parents, graduation day was about pride and transitions. Pat Scroggins watched his daughter, Jessica, graduate with a business degree as he sat high in the stands of the Hearnes Center with his family.
"I'm proud that she reached this milestone in her life and is moving on," he said. "My job is over."