Students share their memories as graduation nears

On May 18, seniors will walk across the stage and transition from students to alumni in one of the biggest moments of their lives.

But for the graduating class of 2013, big moments have been a staple of their time in Wise.

Student woke to this stuffed bear sitting on a camping chair in the middle of the frozen lake on Jan. 13, 2011. Former Chancellor David Prior rescued the bear Jan. 15 on a single-person canoe. Photo by Jordan Fifer | The Highland Cavalier
Student woke to this stuffed bear sitting on a camping chair in the middle of the frozen lake on Jan. 13, 2011. Former Chancellor David Prior rescued the bear Jan. 15 on a single-person canoe. Photo by Jordan Fifer | The Highland Cavalier

Since a large part of the class’ arrival in 2009, they have watched Smiddy Hall and the Leonard W. Sandridge Science Center transform into modern buildings, a 3000-seat arena rise from the ground, the addition of Commonwealth Residence Hall and the Gilliam Center for the Arts, the football team garner play of the year, the college’s first female chancellor join the administration, and a cigar-smoking, beer-drinking polar bear reside on the lake – just to name a few.

While these define some of the more momentous occurrences since 2009, what memories graduates take with them are unique to their own experiences.

For senior political science major Katelyn Wilmer, the guidance of Assistant Professor of Political Science Eric Smith from the first political science class of her freshman year will be one of hers.

“A month after class started, I declared my political science major and I’ve had a class with him every semester,” she said.

Like Wilmer, senior theater major Alex Mays said his professors will be lasting influences and lifelong friends, but he said he will also miss other friends he’s made along the way.

“I guess any memories I have are pretty late nights here in theater trying to put stuff together and not kill ourselves from sleep deprivation,” Mays said.

Senior biology major Meghan Mullins undoubtedly had some late nights studying or researching, but she said the lasting memories she’ll treasure from Wise are the opportunities she’s had.

“I have been able to research, go to conventions, work over the summer on something that is close to my heart,” she said. “I don’t feel like I would have had all those opportunities at a larger college and would not have had the personal connection with the teachers that I do here.”

For senior environmental science major Ryan O’Quinn, the best opportunity Wise ever gave him was admission.

“I actually don’t think that I would have went to school if I didn’t get accepted to UVa-Wise,” he said. “And now I’m accepted and going to grad school.”

Senior management information systems and business administration major Sammy Whitehead, who works for the campus postal service, said he will never forget his coworkers and how they’ve helped him throughout his time.

“They’ve helped me a lot being able to manage my time in terms of work, school work, and everything else,” he said. “It was great while it lasted and I love the people there.”

Although many students are just counting down the days until graduation, some just can’t believe they’re almost there.

Senior English major Whitley Poston is one of those students, but nostalgia isn’t the reason.

“I can’t believe it because I have so much work left to do,” she said.

It seems the homework never stops.

Todd Galyean

Senior political science major Todd Galyean served as editor-in-chief for The Highland Cavalier for the fall semester of 2013. He previously served as new/features editor and opinion editor.

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