BYU experience has left mark on graduates

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    By Stacey Wismer

    Even though over 6,000 graduates will appear similar in their caps and gowns next week, each one will leave with different emotions and experiences.

    “I”m definitely ready,” said Amber Nielsen, 20, graduating in English.

    Nielsen said she is so busy with finals that she has not yet felt the impact of the approaching graduation. Nielsen is finishing her degree in three years, with 18 and a half credits this semester and six more credits of independent study that must be finished by next Wednesday.

    Nielsen is a transfer student from University of Utah.

    “I came to BYU expecting it to be a horrible place, filled with snooty Mormons,” she said.

    But after spending a year and a half here, the people are what made her experience enjoyable.

    Nielsen”s friends from the U also told her she would soon be married after attending BYU, but she told them she would graduate and she was not going to be the typical BYU story.

    “I met my husband two days after I got here,” Nielsen said. “A week after we met, we were talking about marriage. Now, I”m the classic BYU stereotype.”

    Nielsen”s husband, Matt, will not only be watching her graduate, he will be walking across the stage with her. Matt, 24, is also graduating this semester in French.

    “It makes it more exciting to walk together,” Nielsen said.

    Kate Keeler, 24, is also a transfer student, graduating in art education. After attending Snow College, Southern Utah University, and serving a mission in Belgium, Keeler found her way to BYU.

    When Keeler first got to BYU, she hated it. BYU was too much, too big, and she felt inadequate, but the more she got involved, the more she enjoyed her time at BYU.

    “Being involved made it for me,” Keeler said. “I could be a leader; I loved it.”

    After her mission, Keeler thought of returning to SUU.

    “I”m glad I didn”t take the easy road,” she said. “My life has been enriched so much more by attending BYU. This school has given me more than I could ever ask for in an education.”

    Keeler”s Professors have also played a major role in furthering her education.

    “One of my teachers made my program come alive for me,” she said. “She was amazing.”

    As Keeler”s time at BYU comes to an end she has mixed emotions after attending one of her last classes.

    “I was sad,” Keeler said, “sad not to be a college student anymore and to leave the people in my major, who have become some of my best friends.”

    However, Keeler is also excited for the future, but said it is always hard to move on and leave the past behind. Her education has come to a perfect end, she said.

    “I”m so pumped up now to go out and teach,” Keeler said.

    Aubrey Hemingway, 24, graduating in Visual Arts, is not quite sure of her plans after graduation.

    “It feels like the whole world is open to me, like I can go anywhere and do anything,” Hemingway said. “But I just don”t know where to go or what to do.”

    Although Hemingway never thought much of her future after graduation, she always wanted to graduate.

    “I always saw pictures of my mom and dad, holding me as a baby, standing in their caps and gowns on their graduation day,” Hemingway said.

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