The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Pitt seniors report mixed feelings about graduation

Pitt+seniors+report+mixed+feelings+about+graduation
Joy Zhang | Staff Illustrator

Senior social work major Maggie Packard spent her high school graduation ceremony sitting on her front porch, watching a televised speaker stumble over hundreds of names as photos flashed by. Now awaiting her college graduation, Packard is waiting for closure from high school. 

Many people in the class of 2024 will experience their first classic graduation ceremony on April 28. Some, like Packard, said they have mixed feelings about the upcoming ceremony. 

“[Graduating] feels really weird, to be honest,” Packard said. “I’ve been having issues with it because it’s kind of my first real graduation, I would say. It’s weird experiencing the normal end-of-year graduation stuff for the first time at 21.”

Packard said missing out on certain traditions held her back from moving on from high school. 

“The end of senior year, like prom, senior skip day, graduation, et cetera, is all the culmination of highschool,” Packard said. “The fact that I didn’t get that was really disappointing — I never got the closure that me as an 18-year-old wanted and so I was stuck in that mindset for a really long time.”

With the pandemic raging on, Packard said she was uncomfortable feeling upset about missing graduation. 

“It was hard being disappointed about not getting stuff that I expected and that I thought would give me closure while also being like, ‘People are dying right now,’” Packard said. “It was really disappointing, but it was also not the biggest issue in the world.”

Packard, who is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, said she plans to attend graduate school and become a social worker. She said her choice of school — decidedly outside of Michigan — was influenced by her feelings about high school. 

“My freshman year, I was like, ‘I’m moving back to Michigan the second I graduate,’” Packard said. “I don’t really feel that way anymore, and I feel part of it is because I don’t feel as attached to who I was in high school.”

Abby Filitsky, a senior natural sciences major, said she feels similarly to Packard.

“It’s really bittersweet because I’ve never really experienced this before. I had it in high school, but I never got a real graduation or all this,” Filitsky said. “Growing up watching everyone else get that, and being so excited, and then not getting it was just hard.”

Filitsky said her involvement in campus organizations has made graduating especially difficult.

“I am involved in a lot of stuff at Pitt, which makes things really sad and hard to say goodbye,” Filitsky said. “I work at Saxby’s in the Cathedral, I’m in Pitt Dance Marathon, I’m in Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, and I also teach spin classes for Pitt.”

Many of her organizations have hosted events to send seniors off, Filitsky said.

“For Pitt Dance Marathon, on the day of, we honored the seniors and I got a stole for that,” Filitsky said. “For the sorority, we have bags where you can write notes for each senior. We’re having senior pictures on Saturday, and then we do a ceremony where your littles write you a letter.”

Filitsky said she is still eager for her next chapter, during which she will be working as a dental assistant in Mount Lebanon before applying to dental school. 

“I’m really excited to be an adult and have time to actually do things I enjoy instead of studying all the time,” Filitsky said. 

Madison Bartusiak, a senior film and media studies major, said she hoped this graduation will bring her a sense of resolution. 

“I remember during high school I was just angry,” Bartusiak said. “I was so upset, because you worked so hard for 12 years for all of these celebratory things to happen at the end of high school, and then none of it happens. So I’m hoping that Pitt over the next few weeks, it’ll feel like nice closure for me.”

Bartusiak, like many, said she is simply excited to leave college. Her post-graduation plans include job hunting for film-related careers before participating in the Disney College Program in August. 

“I just want the degree. Get me out of here,” Bartusiak said.