Student anxieties addressed at block party

By Katy Nielsen

For many students, graduation is around the corner. In addition to studying for exams, students are organizing their portfolios, searching for jobs and emotionally preparing themselves for post-college life. Columbia recognized that by holding its Graduation Block Party at Stage Two in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building on Oct. 27.

The goal of the block party, according to Jill Summers, director of the Student Affairs Office of Special Events, was to let students confirm that they are in good standing, be sure they have met the necessary requirements, order class rings, sign up for Manifest and be fitted in caps and gowns before the big day.

“Knowing everything is in order is so important for students,” Summers said.

Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, walked between booths and spoke with students and administration at the block party.

“We’re working so hard at making sure all our graduating students are ready and prepared for a challenging job market … and the journey ahead of them,” Kelly said. “We want them to know what to expect at graduation, what they’re going to be doing with their body of work and how we’re going to spotlight their work at Manifest.”

Having all paperwork in order before graduation is necessary, but students also need to be prepared emotionally, said Rebecca Aronson, coordinator of Counseling Services.

According to Aronson, Counseling Services is a good resource for that.

“I’ve been telling people to give us a call if they’re feeling anxious about graduation,” Aronson said.

Maya Ferdynus and Alison Rodriguez, both majoring in journalism, tried on caps and gowns together as they waited in line to be photographed in their graduation attire at the block party.

“I’m very excited about graduating,” Ferdynus said. “I love this school but I’m just ready to start my career, put all the things Columbia has taught me into my real life and start using that knowledge.”

Ferdynus has been at Columbia for five years and said she’s ready to move on, but worries about finding a job.

Rodriguez said she knows students tend to get nervous about graduating but she’s more excited than anxious.

“I think the block party definitely helped me get in the mentality of graduating,” Rodriguez said.

Student Government Association President John Trierweiler, a senior broadcast journalism major, made announcements at the block party throughout the afternoon, and said it’s a great opportunity for students to have access to information about exiting Columbia in one place.

“It’s a one-stop shop and events like these help students be prepared, informed and ready to graduate,” Trierweiler said.

Tina Zepeda, senior arts, entertainment and media management major, is graduating this December and said she thinks everybody’s pretty scared about graduating, but they’re more excited about what happens next.

“Just being free for a while will be nice, not worrying about going to class every morning or every night,” Zepeda said.

Ruby Turner, graduation audit adviser for the Office of Degree Evaluation, had one of 14 booths set up at the block party.

Students visited Turner’s desk throughout the afternoon to inquire about what term they’re graduating and verify their graduation status in the Columbia system.

“Everybody seems to be relaxed and enjoying the whole atmosphere of it,” Turner said.

For the most part, students did not express concern about graduating. The next big question for new grads is deciding what to do next, said David Marts, administrative assistant in the Graduate Studies Office.

“I think most people are uncertain about which is the appropriate route for them, joining the work force or going to grad school,” Marts said. “If they know the time is right for grad school now, then go for it.”

Columbia’s commencement is May 14–15. Students graduating in December are encouraged to walk in the May ceremony.