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UNCW graduation filled with hope, anticipation and enthusiasm


After four years of hard work and perseverance, a record number of UNCW students walked across the stage at this year’s fall commencement. A moment that brings feelings of joy, accomplishment and pride – but in this economy, the future for many graduates is quite uncertain.

“Actually, I plan on moving up to Raleigh, trying to find a job. With the economy the way it is – anything I can get – just an entry-level job, work my way up, work hard. Take everything we’ve learned and just apply it,” said UNCW graduate Gary Lyman.

More graduates for fewer jobs means higher rates of unemployment for college grads. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the jobless rate for 20-24 year old college grads was 10 percent in November, the highest rate since 1983. In the moment though, even without clear cut job plans, grads are optimistic.

Anna Fowler said, “It’s all an adventure. We’re so excited, so no matter how long it takes we have our family and friends behind us. I know God will provide something for us along the way.”

And in life, certain things are more important than immediate employment.

“I’m moving back to Raleigh as well, and I guess I’m going to be planning a wedding because we just got engaged last night,” added Fowler. “He (Gary Lyman) proposed to me at the mailbox on Wrightsville Beach, close to Figure Eight Island. It was sunset, and it was beautiful and we wrote it down in the notebook that’s inside the mailbox.”

And so the class of 2009 leaves UNCW and moves on to an uncertain future, with hope, anticipation, and enthusiasm.

The university attributes the record number of graduates to several factors, including increased class size and higher retention rates.

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videoThis weekend marked the end of a journey for more than 1,700 students at UNCW, as the university celebrated its fall commencement. But what faces these young minds as they head out into the job market?

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