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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | Last updated: 6:40pm

Words of wisdom: UA professors give graduates advice



The Daily Wildcat asked professors to provide some advice for graduating students. Here’s what they had to say:

What advice do you have for graduating students?

First, be glad that you worked so hard to attain your degree. Congratulations! Focus on what you want to do next in your professional career. It’s OK to change your mind, but decide right now what you want to do most immediately and put your efforts into following up on that goal.

— Melissa Curran, associate professor for the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

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UA graduates took senior photos around campus as they prepared for commencement. Some professors offered graduates advice as they prepare for life after graduation.

Enjoy the moment. Hug your friends a little tighter and hold them a little bit longer. Who knows when you will see them again? For my generation, Facebook has been a tremendous tool to reconnect after 15 to 25 years. Volunteer in your community. Make a positive difference in the life of a younger person while you can.

— Edward Franklin, associate professor for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Be open-minded and flexible. You’re not done learning. You just won’t be getting graded “A” through “E” now, but it all still matters.

— Susan Knight, associate professor of practice for the School of Journalism

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced after graduating, and how did you overcome them?

Finding out what I really wanted to do as a profession. [I] returned to graduate school and pursued a slightly different pathway.

— Donald Slack, professor and interim head of agricultural and biosystems engineering and professor of watershed management and eco-hydrology for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering

Knowing the long haul in front of me (after graduating college until my job at UA, I had eight years of further schooling and work). I kept focused on what I wanted to do and why my future job of being a professor was so important to me. This helps a lot. Being passionate about this goal helped immensely as well.

— Curran

Getting a job I wanted seemed impossible. It was impossible. So I took the job I could get. Life turned out extraordinarily well in the long run, but the view was a bit blurred at the onset.

— Suzanne Cummins, senior lecturer in the Department of Management and Organizations for the Eller College of Management

What surprised you the most about “the real world,” if anything, and what advice do you have for students who fear this change?

The real world has a lot of responsibilities that come with it. I work all the time (weekdays, weeknights, weekends, holidays). It helps a lot to have a supportive network around you (e.g., a partner or spouse who supports you and your goals) as well as passion, enthusiasm and commitment for what you want to do.

— Curran

There is no homework in the real world. The end of the day is yours. The days off are yours. People pay you to do stuff. It doesn’t matter where things start out — it is all about the journey. About love. About keeping your car running. About paying your bills. About love.

— Cummins

My first job was nowhere near what I expected it to be. It was not the professional track I wanted to follow so I returned to graduate school to get an MS degree and go off in a different direction. One of the best choices I made.

— Slack

The trains run on time. Being late or skipping altogether is not an option.

— Knight

What is, in your opinion, the best thing students have to look forward to after graduation?

Putting their education and skillset to use. Knowing that they are the next generation to train and guide others toward their professional goals.

— Curran

Being able to provide for yourself is so much more valuable than you might guess. To live within means — means that may be smaller than you had hoped but with clever planning can sustain you on your own — is amazing.

— Cummins

Another chapter of your life is about to begin. Hopefully, you are emotionally and psychologically ready. The party days are behind you; time to roll up the sleeves and contribute to society.

— Franklin

Any last thoughts?

Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t take anyone else too seriously either.

— Slack

Life is wonderful, and horrifying, and fulfilling, and unfair, and rewarding, and scary, and random and temporary. While we are privileged to be on this planet, it definitely bears remembering to enjoy the ride. Best of luck to all of you!

— Cummins


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