SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – Thousands of students across Alabama successfully completed their college programs and earned their diplomas on Friday. The University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of Montevallo and others held commencement ceremonies to recognize these students’ accomplishments.
This December commencement comes when the U.S. Labor Department is reporting the lowest first-time unemployment claims it has seen in over 52 years.
“They really did their best to help me any way to make it as easy as possible for me to enjoy every single step,” graduate Lily Cooper said.
Cooper created her own major and has been persistent to land her job at Camp McDowell, hopeful to one day be an environmental educator.
“I knew where I really wanted to work after I graduated, and I applied before they even started the application process just to get my name in the door. They remembered me and I happened to find two references that have really close ties,” Cooper said.
For others, the future is still shaping up.
“It’s been tough and very interesting, but you learn to work with it,” graduate Vyk Kinnell said. “That process of challenge kind of helps you find what you need and puts you on the right path of where you need to go.”
Working toward a Ph.D. is another path for these graduates.
“After I get my doctorate hopefully, I’ll be out there doing some space vehicle research and hopefully planning for some big things,” graduate Evelina Teran said.
Teran is hopeful to one day be working with NASA to help with exploring the lost frontier.
“Getting my foot in the door early on with the Air Force Research Lab in Eglin, Florida which is where I’m from and being like okay if I have this opportunity now it might open up opportunities later down the road, and it’s definitely done that,” Teran said.
Anna Mims is well on her way to be teaching kindergarten by January, following a dream she has had since she was that age.
“I have a few different leads right now and I’m very blessed that I’ve been chosen for those,” Mims said. “I’m ready. If I was given a classroom today, I know that me and my family could just get that classroom ready and turned around for January with no doubt.”
No matter what happens next, these graduates said they’re ready to use their education and conquer what comes their way.
“Nothing is wrong with not having your dream job right off the bat as long as you are working and putting progress forward, that’s what makes it worthwhile,” Kinnell said.
This class of 2021 joins an alumni base of over 26,000 others that have come before them since the university’s inception in 1896.