Soon-to-be UI grads saying goodbye to old haunts

Soon-to-be UI grads saying goodbye to old haunts

URBANA — Graduating is about the final moments.

There's the last exam and the last class; the final piece of clothing to pack; the last walk around the Quad; the last picture in front of Alma Mater — and a last last call at Kam's.

For generations of Illini, graduation day has been a fuzzy blur of goodbyes and lasts.

Still donning their caps and gowns, Shaurya Singhal, Cristian Silva, and Jay Lee walked Friday in the shadow of the Illini Union smiling, laughing and talking about old times. They'll be among the thousands of students who'll attend the university-wide commencement ceremony at 9:30 a.m. today at Memorial Stadium.

As they thought about their last moments on campus, Singhal said there are still things he hasn't seen at the UI.

"I'm going to visit my old dorm too," Singhal said. "I met a bunch of people who I call my best friends now at that dorm."

Late nights in the basement of the Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls was a staple for the three friends. Silva said he'll definitely have a few drinks at Red Lion and then head over to PAR one last time. Lee just plans on staying at Red Lion.

"I want to sleep at Red Lion, wake up at Red Lion, then get on the train to O'Hare, and fly to the Far East," Lee said. "I don't know when I'll come back."

Just finished with pictures, Caitlin Miller and Gianna Bendinelli said they'll be staying another week. It's just too hard to leave it all at once so soon, Miller said. She'll miss the social aspects of it, but she's headed to graduate school next. Bendinelli isn't.

"I'm really sad about the school part of this," Bendinelli said. "I was really bummed after my last class. It's been four years of this stuff. I guess I realized I was done when I was walking on the Quad afterward and thought 'wow, I won't be doing this anymore.'"

Miller has some family coming this weekend. For four years they've visited periodically and made lasting memories.

"I'm stuck on a lot of the things we did for the last time and just haven't thought about it," Miller said. "I'll probably come back on the Quad and take one last picture at sunset or something. I might even go back to PAR."

"No," Bendinelli retorted. "Never again."

The moment it really hit Lauren Gifford that she was done with school was the last of her movie nights with her friend Danielle Ramos.

Standing in the long line for a picture with Alma, Gifford and Ramos reminisced about their times at Murphy's and their weekly trips to the Savoy 16 IMAX.

"I said bye to my kids yesterday," Ramos said of the third-grade class she student-taught this year. "I had said goodbye to them back in March, but I went back for one last goodbye. It was a lot."

Just steps away from them, his camera in hand, Mac Carroll stood and watched as others posed for pictures. He said he's been in Barcelona all year for an architecture study-abroad program, so graduation day for him is doubly weird.

"I literally have been back here for 30 hours," Carroll said. "I've been trying to catch up with friends and walking around campus a lot. I'll probably go back to studio. Studio is very traumatic for a young architect. The first couple of weeks I didn't really care about it and wasn't doing well. But after that it really kicked in that I wanted to be an architect."

Carroll said he'll probably go back and sit in his old chair in the architecture studios.

"It all just feels surreal," he said.

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