As the end of the 2022-2023 school year approaches, UMD’s busy campus will quiet down as students go their separate ways for the summer season. Some students are nearing the end of their freshman year, while others are leaving the campus they have called home for quite some time. The end of the school year comes with parting from fun-filled days at McKeldin Mall and late-night trips with friends to Pizza Kingdom, but also comes a bigger and brighter future for many.
Senior criminology and criminal justice major Denise Yildirim is saying goodbye to the place where she has made some of her most unforgettable memories with friends she now calls family.
"I wouldn't change my four years here at Maryland for the world," Yildirim said. "When people told me college flies by, I didn't think they meant this fast."
Yildirim will attend Brooklyn Law School for the 2023-2024 school year. She said getting into law school has been one of her most exhausting yet fulfilling life experiences.
"This summer, I'm going to prioritize my health and well-being before taking on three years known for being notoriously challenging," Yildirim said. "There's no set path to follow, and sometimes people can forget that there are so many opportunities in life and to enjoy it while it lasts."
Yildirim said her senior year of college was the perfect ending to her time in College Park, and it's bittersweet for her to see those younger than her just beginning to jump-start their futures.
Speaking of bright futures, sophomore journalism major Alexa Wootten plans to travel to Africa this summer to report on the NBA's outreach and player development efforts. Wootten said the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and Merrill College of Journalism course focuses on NBA Academy Africa, a youth basketball school in Saly, Senegal.
"The thought of doing what I love in such a phenomenal place is unreal," Wootten said. "I get to share my love for sports with people in another continent, and to me, there is no other way I would rather spend my summer."
Wootten said she's been trying to enjoy the last few weeks of school as much as possible, but it's been difficult with such an exciting opportunity fast approaching.
Sophomore Sarah Cohen shares similar feelings to Wootten, for another big summer trip is coming her way. Cohen will join Maryland Hillel this summer on Birthright Israel, and she said she could not be more thrilled to return to "...the most flawless place I have ever laid eyes on," Cohen said.
Cohen said she’s eagerly anticipating her relaxation in a place she holds so close to her heart after a very challenging semester. She emphasized prioritizing mental health during high stress and pressure, especially during the school year, and the importance of setting personal boundaries.
"This year, I have pushed myself harder than ever," said Cohen. "I also now know my limits and how important it is to make sure I respect them."
Cohen said she learned so much more than what her textbooks had to offer this year, and though it was more challenging than her first year at UMD, what she gained outweighed any enduring roadblocks.
While many are eagerly waiting for their summer trips as the semester comes to a close, others have different summers planned.
Professor Gerald Borgia said he plans to work on his sexual selection research in bowerbirds to analyze data he has collected in Australia and New Guinea to test his hypothesis.
Similarly, Professor Thomas Abt will work with several jurisdictions to help them strategize ways to reduce brutality and keep up with readings for his CCJS225 class on violence.
"I want my students to have the latest information on this important issue," Abt said.
Leah Jose, sophomore philosophy, politics, and economics major, said she has already started planning for the upcoming semester.
"Although this school year was one of the best I've ever had, it was just as eye-opening to me in my preparation for the real world," Jose said. "I figured out how to prioritize my social life as well as just my work life."
Jose is working as an intern in Washington D.C. this summer at a criminal law firm and said this semester undeniably prepared her for this opportunity.
Sophomore physiology and neurobiology major Lauren Rizzo shares a similar confidence in her abilities due to the 2022-2023 school year. Rizzo said this year was very academically demanding as she progressed through her major, but the skills she developed made her studies worth it.
"I'm going to be super busy this summer, but I would say that my personal time is super important to me," Rizzo said. "I need to make sure to take a little extra time for myself whenever I have a super hard week with school, work, and extracurriculars."
Rizzo will live off campus at the College Park Volunteer Fire Department as she trains to become a certified EMT-B. With weekly EMT classes and night shifts in the ambulance all summer, Rizzo is in for a wild ride.
"Don't wait for your future to start," said Rizzo. "Make your future start today."