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Bittersweet


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“I’m sorry you can’t get your honors cords, because you’ve retaken some classes.” These words, like a dagger struck me in the heart, leaving me speechless and confused. In a rage I stormed out of the Registrar office feeling betrayed.

The classes that I’ve retaken still were calculated into my graduation cumulative GPA to receive honors, leaving me decimal points away from my cum laude graduation honors. What was I to do now? Fight for my cord, go study for my final, finish squaring away graduation plans? With graduation only days away, I couldn’t rationally think of anything besides, “I’m ready to get out of here!”

In the final weeks of my stay at North Carolina A&T State University, I find it hard to reminisce on the good times. To say the least I have a host of memories from my matriculation at this institution. From showing my Aggie Pride at Football games with the Aggie Maniacs, to getting ready for battle of the Hometowns fashion show with NYNJ Connection, or concrete canoe challenge for ASCE’s spring conferences, or more recently winning the Homecoming Step Show with my sorors in the Alpha Phi Chapter. Still my mind seems to stray from these fond thoughts. Instead, all I can think of is STRESS.

This feeling may come as no surprise to fellow graduates. The hassle of dealing with financial aid to ensure there aren’t any holds or additional charges on my account, nor issues with the registrar’s office, still doesn’t trump the mounding pressure of finals. This race to the finish is a week, crammed with finals and presentations, with not even the satisfaction of a “Reading Day” (and Saturday does not count). 

With a schedule of finals leading up to the day before we walk across the stage, I find myself pleading with professors to reschedule exams, just so I can receive my honors at banquets within the same week. This is ridiculous and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth before leaving A&T. 

The problem surrounding this dilemma is scheduling. For example, Fisk University holds finals for seniors on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday prior to their traditional Monday graduation. Final grades are in by that Wednesday evening to notify students if they have completed all of their graduation requirements. A&T on the other hand, won’t post final grades until after we have already walked across the stage, turned our tassels, and begun a new chapter in our lives. I’m simply proposing a senior week that allows for a smooth transition to graduation. 

Allowing seniors the opportunity to finish with finals a week prior to the rest of the student body will open up space in computer labs, enable us to finish getting grades and on campus business squared away prior to our final walk. Hampton, Howard, Fisk, Tuskegee, and a host of other HBCUs and PWIs have senior weeks similar to what is being proposed.

I’m airing this out in hopes that others will be prepared for there final weeks. It may be too late for me to get things straight, but it hurts more that I can’t even enjoy the friends and for some family that I have gained here at A&T. Looking back after graduation I don’t want to feel like I was unable to cherish those final moments due to finals, and running around that could have been prevented. 

I cherish all that I have gained at this institution and wish I could honor each and every person that helped make me the person I am today, yet I’m stuck in McNair finalizing projects and studying for finals. My hope is that graduating classes will be able to enjoy this time, even if I can’t. All in all, leaving A&T seems bitter sweet. 

  • Bree Pelham
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Bittersweet