Archive for Monday, May 15, 1995

KU GRADS DO IT THEIR WAY

May 15, 1995

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Thousands of graduates and their families basked in the sunshine of graduation day.

"It may have taken an eternity but ... At least I did it my way."

Those words adorned posters on the shoulders of Kansas University graduate Ann O'Malley.

"I did it myyyyy waaaay," she sang, doing her best impersonation of Frank Sinatra.

O'Malley was one of thousands of new Kansas University graduates who assembled on Memorial Drive and made the traditional walk down Campanile Hill and into Memorial Stadium as part of KU's 123rd commencement ceremony.

The assembly and march was characterized again this year with graduates' wearing of various props, some to make them stand out so their families could recognize them, others just for the heck of it.

"Everyone looks the same when you're walking down -- I want my parents to know which one is me," said Erin Walker, a graphics design major who wore a set of bright pink ribbons on her mortarboard.

"I feel like it's the end of one life and I'm going into the real world," she said.

Among the graduates were Nick Kounas, John Falley, Cary Marquis and Leeann Laskey, all 1987 Lawrence High School graduates who were receiving diplomas again, but this time through different schools at KU.

"It took us awhile, but we're all graduating again together," Laskey said.

"This group is the slackers that took eight years," said Bonnie Kounas, one of the graduates' moms.

She said it took her son "a long time, but he paid his own way and I'm real proud of him."

Dennis Wilson, LaCrosse, whose eldest son, Luke, graduated with a premedicine degree, said, "It means the first of three down, but two yet to go." Wilson's younger children will graduate from college in 1998 and 2002 if all goes well, he said.

Before Sunday's procession began, graduates exchanged hugs, posed for pictures and hammed it up for video cameras.

Many talked about the jobs they had recently landed, but most simply talked about party plans for Sunday night.

For Stan Rolfe, professor and chair of civil engineering, Sunday marked his 25th commencement, give or take a few.

"They're all new graduates and it's exciting each time," he said.

Asked if he thought Sunday's good weather was a result of collective mental power, he said, "They say there are no real coincidences in this world, so I would be surprised if it wasn't."

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