By Ryan Clark
Web Marketing + Communications
As they gathered in the darkened hallway, draped in their maroon caps and gowns, some danced and jittered, while others gave or received the occasional high-five. It was a collective overconfidence the group used to try and mask the nervousness of the night.
Cooper High School's class of 2014 had done it. They were going to graduate — and ahead of them was only everything in the world.
Hunter Williams looked away from the group and laughed. The red-haired senior had a ball in high school as a member of track & field and the photography club. Now the only thing left was to walk across the stage, turn her tassel and make it official.
Hunter, an 18-year-old from Burlington, has already made her college choice. She'll be coming to NKU in the fall to major in nursing. But before she does, she'll close the door on her high school career. She knows life will change. Friends will come and go. There will be decisions and preparations to make.
She will grow up. It's not something she is necessarily looking forward to.
“Gosh, getting ready for college is crazy — seems like I still have lots to do,” she said. “Honestly it has not sunk in yet. But it feels pretty good — a bunch of stress is gone."
As her family watched from the school gymnasium's bleachers, the 250-plus seniors queued up to the sounds of inspiring pop music blaring through large speakers. A projector showed a photo montage of baby pictures of the students and the air was filled with nervous excitement.
In every corner students smiled and posed, desperately trying to look older than they really were. They were all caught in-between, somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, a crowd bathed in Axe body spray.
Each student gingerly walked up and down the steps to the stage, on to new challenges and stories.
“I did not want to fall,” Hunter laughed after crossing the stage. “I was afraid.”
Making those first steps can be scary. But everyone did it.
Hunter let her desire to help others guide her career decision, and her NKU Orientation started June 9.
“I went from special needs teaching to physical therapy and I’ve decided on nursing based on job security,” she said. “I’m super-excited just to pick out all the scrubs!”
For the next few weeks she will work as a waitress to save money for her college spending account. She will study the Schedule of Classes and buy books. She will make sure NKU has all her final high school transcripts.
And she will sleep a lot, she said.
“It makes me excited to see what the future holds for me,” she said. “There are plenty of opportunities to make your mark at NKU. (My parents are) excited to see me go off on to this new chapter in my life and are 100 percent supportive of me and what I’m going into.”
But on graduation night, she focused on leaving high school. She hugged friends and family. She posed for pictures.
And of course she had to Norse Up for the cameras.
After all, it’s only 10 weeks until college.
Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko, NKU
The first steps to college are the toughest to take. Over the course of the summer we will follow 18-year-old Hunter Williams as she prepares to enter her freshman year at NKU. In this installment, Hunter graduates from Cooper High School. #NKUFirstStep