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Fly Eagles Fly--Seniors Prepare to Leave Nest For a New Home

Senior Aaliyah Liles shows off her Longwood University gear and acceptance letter. (Courtesy Photo)

By Hayley Rea--Eagle Assistant Editor

For many seniors on campus, such as Jaden Bernard, Aaliyah Liles, and Michael Shanahan, college preparations are already in full swing for the coming fall semester.

“I am super excited! I’m counting down the days until I get to leave [for college],” Liles exclaimed.

Some colleges have already begun reaching out to seniors and providing them with acceptances.

“I’m going to UVA with an intended major in International Relations, so I’m going straight to a 4-year to get my bachelor’s,” Bernard explained about her college plans.

However, not everyone has decided on a traditional route for college.

“My plan is to go to Virginia Western for two years using CCAP to help pay for it and gain my associates. After that, I will then use a GAA (Guaranteed Admission Acceptance) to go to Virginia Tech’s School of Engineering,” Shanahan elaborated.

For many students, their passions lie outside of Franklin County. For senior Layla Freeman, they even lie outside of the country. Although she's starting out in her hometown, her future aspirations will lead her to Scotland.

Students come together on the University of St. Andrews campus in Scotland. (Photo Used Under the Fair Use Provision of the US Copyright Code)

“I am going to Ferrum College to pursue a BFA in theatre arts for four years and after that I am going to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland for a Master’s of Literature in Playwriting and Screenwriting,” Freeman said about her college ambitions.

As seniors have received acceptances, some have chosen to participate in a campus tour of their respective college.

“I have toured with Covid. We had to wear masks, but it was amazing. I love the campus and the energy,” Liles commented about her trip to Longwood University.

When deciding on colleges, seniors on campus had to consider a lot of different aspects. One of the most discussed was major programs.

“My major will be in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Astrophysics,” Shanahan explained. “I wish to become an aerospace engineer for NASA, preferably at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, or work maybe for a private company, like SpaceX. I could also see being a contractor for the military if I go with more of a plane route of study.”

Another factor that plays into feelings about college is the increased freedom and responsibility.

“I’m nervous about having to adapt to a new environment, but that’s also one of the most exciting parts,” Bernard commented. “I really look forward to making new friends and kind of developing a new life for myself in Charlottesville.”

When it comes to Covid, a few seniors have expressed worry about what lies ahead with their college experiences.

“I feel like [Covid] would impact [college life] a little negatively because it won’t be a normal college experience,” Freeman expressed.

But even with the virus, most are finding ways to stay optimistic about the future.

“I don’t know how much [Covid] will [affect college life]. Some classes may be virtual next semester, but part of me is hopeful with Western’s smaller size that arrangements can be made, especially if I am already vaccinated,” Shanahan replied.

Some seniors don’t foresee much change in the transition from high school to college life.

“I think my education will be relatively unaffected since I’ve spent a majority of my senior year in a virtual environment,” Bernard explained. “While it may make social interaction more difficult, I’m still hopeful that I will be able to maintain a work/life balance.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, there is still a buzz of excitement when it comes to graduating and going off to pursue a career.

Senior Layla Freeman poses with Ferrum College banner. (Courtesy Photo)

“I am really excited to get out of high school and be an adult and get a better education so I can have a good life,” Freeman said about her anticipation. “I’m looking forward to being able to have a little more freedom and to pick the classes I want.”

Overall, many seniors seem to come together about the appeal of branching out and having new experiences after high school.

“I’m really looking forward to living in a fresh, urban environment as opposed to rural Franklin County. I can’t wait to meet new people and develop new relationships. While I know the work will be harder, I’m willing to take on the challenge because I know I’m getting a top notch education,” Bernard concluded.

To find out how Virginia colleges are adapting their tours to better fit pandemic guidelines, click here.

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