See ya later, Gator!

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I may have shed a tear or two (okay, okay – it was a lot) while writing this post “see ya later” letter. It’s almost surreal to think that I’ve finally left Gainesville after 6 ½ wonderful years. I held on for as long as I could, but it’s time for me to embrace a new adventure.

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UF Homecoming Weekend

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This past weekend was one for the books as my family and I celebrated UF’s homecoming! Our weekend was packed with Gator football, family dinners and priceless memories!

Kev and I started off homecoming with the homecoming festival and parade. This was the first time that there was a festival, and we really enjoyed it. There were different vendors and sponsors at the festival with freebies. The highlight was running into our  sweet friends Hannah and Allison, pictured below.

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Not only was there fun carnival-like activities at the festival, but there was also orange and blue kettle popcorn! The kettle popcorn smelled absolutely delicious, but the line was very long, (and I may have been slightly impatient) so we left empty-handed.

After the carnival, we headed over to grab seats in front of the stadium to watch the homecoming parade. I have always enjoyed watching the parade; ever since my freshman year when I was able to participate in it myself. I will never forget the feeling of riding down University Avenue in the back of a flat-bed trailer spreading the Gator spirit. This year Kev and I joined our friends, Paulette and Chris, to watch.

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Next up, the UF Football game vs. Vandy! I always enjoy watching a football game, whether it’s good or ugly. This game was especially fun because I got to watch some of my friends take the field as part of the homecoming court. And even though they couldn’t hear me from the stands, that didn’t stop me from cheering.

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I’m already looking forward to next year’s homecoming weekend!


First week of Grad School: Finished

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It’s still so unbelievable that I’m in graduate school here at UF. While most of my friends have gone off to the “real world” for jobs, I’m back in school for Round 2. And while these past few weeks have been absolutely wild, I am so happy with my decision to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling.

The first week is always the most stressful as you try to navigate your way through syllabi and scheduling. However, every time I would share my concerns with a classmate, I was reminded as to why we were chosen for this career. My peers would listen to my concerns, lend support and empower my decisions. I couldn’t have survived without them.

Grad school living

Not only do I absolutely love my program, but I also have a new group of friends to call family. My cohort is filled with the most genuine, compassionate and kindest folks you’ll ever meet. Every conversation I have is like a mini pep talk – you could bottle their support and make millions.

And when you don’t dread the assignments or going to class, you know you’re in the right program. I am so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to learn from some of the forerunners in the counseling world. The knowledge and experiences I will gain through this program are priceless.


Tips for Graduation

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After about two weeks of moving, relaxation and all around laziness, I finally decided to write about helpful graduation tips. Graduation can be a joyous, yet stressful, time of the year. As a graduate you’re not only going through the emotions of leaving college, but you’re also planning for life after. It can also be hectic to plan for family and friends during graduation – so these tips may be helpful!

Before Graduation

  1. Pick up your swag – Make sure to pick up your cap and gown, along with all of your other graduation goodies! Most organizations provide you with stoles, cords and medallions for the hard work you’ve done. The lines can be long to pick up your swag, so plan in advance.
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Picking up my graduation goodies from Katelyn

  1. Graduation Photos – Plan to capture the spirit of graduation by taking photos before the big day. This allows you time to take photos before the prime places on campus become crowded (ie. The Swamp, Bull Gator, etc.). Find someone who takes photos either as a profession or hobby. My friend, Jordan Albright, is an amazing photographer who provided me with a detailed plan of our photo shoot. She was able to put me at ease and capture my true personality!
  1. Graduation Announcements – To let my family and friends know that I was graduating, I decided to send out announcements. I looked at a variety of announcement makers: Shutterfly, Etsy, CVS and Walgreens. Based on the price and quality, I decided to use CVS. They provide templates, which can be customized to your preferences. I was able to create the announcements and do same-day pickup.

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  1. Cap Decorations – Decorating my cap was something I have been looking forward to! However, when the time came – I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. Thankfully, my Katelyn is a crafting genius! She used Photoshop to create the cap image and then I added embellishments. Pinterest is a big help if you’re stuck on ideas.
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Monograms, Lilly Pulitzer and Thank You’s – the perfect cap!

Graduation Weekend

  1. Make Plans – Graduation weekend is the perfect time to entertain family members who are coming in for the weekend. Visit Gainesville is a great website with sites and attractions for visitors. Our family loves to eat, so most of our time was centered around checking out new restaurants. We visited Southern Charm Kitchen, which had the best chicken & waffles. We also visited Crane Ramen, which was gourmet ramen – we fell in love with the place.
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Southern Charm Kitchen – BBQ & Mason Jars

The best way to eat Ramen

The best way to eat Ramen

  1. College Celebration – Most colleges will have a celebration for their students (and they’re family friendly too). The College of Journalism and Communications had a celebration right before the graduation packed with snacks, Albert & Alberta, and past professors. It was the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and relax with friends before our big moment.

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  1. Graduation – The big event flies by, so make time to capture pictures while you’re there. Most colleges will allow graduates to sit together with friends as opposed to sitting alphabetically. I was able to sit with my favorite people and they made the night wonderful!
Graduation in the Swamp

Graduation in the Swamp

  1. Graduation Dinner – Make reservations in advance so you know that you’ll have a table once you’re at the restaurant. We decided to head downtown to a new restaurant that had just opened. The Mojo Hogtown BBQ was the perfect spot – both rustic and modern. Its atmosphere was relaxing and homey – exactly what we wanted after sitting in the Swamp. With an entire wall dedicated to whiskey, and the most delicious fried, green tomatoes – it was the perfect celebration dinner.

Post Graduation

  1. Reflect – Take some time to reflect on your past years. It was fun to look through photos from when I was a freshman to now. I also took a walk around campus to reminisce on some of my favorite memories.
Freshman Year Rachel

Freshman Year Rachel

  1. Goodbyes – The worst part of leaving Gainesville for the summer was saying goodbye to friends and mentors. I sometimes have a hard time expressing myself verbally, which is why I like to write instead. I decided to write Thank You notes and Target always has the cutest $1 notes.
  1. Packing – Okay, I lied. Packing was the worst part of leaving Gainesville. Thankfully, I planned ahead and started sending things home earlier on in the semester. The biggest piece of advice I had was to organize early on!