As a newly minted Catholic University alumna, I’m already helplessly nostalgic to be back at my home of four years. Although I only graduated ten days ago, I can’t help but look back with love on all the amazing events and traditions I got to become part of. From every finals week Late Night Breakfast to CapitalFest to Luaupalooza, there are many CUA traditions gladly upheld by CUA students. But one tradition, which is freshest in my memory, is reserved just for graduating seniors as a last hurrah before walking across the stage: Senior Week!
Senior week takes place following the end of finals and leading up to graduation and is pretty much college utopia. Finals have been taken, papers and senior theses turned in and all the underclassmen have gone home for the summer. It’s a responsibility-free week made for celebrating and hitting up every “last time” at Catholic. Last time eating in the Pryz, last time sun-bathing on the Basilica lawn, last time playing Cards Against Humanity and ordering pizza in the Mills, and so much more. But what is best about Senior Week is that Program Board puts on an awesome event every day (usually involving free food) to keep us busy.
This year, the week was kicked off with a rainy day trip to the nearby Six Flags amusement park. Even though it didn’t feel like summer, the weather didn’t stop us from getting on every ride twice. Next came the annual brunch hosted by the university’s Alumni Association. Nothing beats free pancakes and mimosas on a Sunday morning! Boardwalk Night, a new event this year, brought in food trucks, carnival games, loads of pizza and cotton candy, and prizes and giveaways for a relaxed evening on campus. The big event, Senior Gala, and finally one last National’s baseball game closed out the week’s event for the seniors to really start preparing for commencement.
While some of the events change from year to year, there are a few mainstays, most notably the Senior Gala. To describe it generally, the gala is basically college prom with better food, a cash bar, and (thankfully) no tacky corsages. Guys rent tuxes and girls wear floor-length ballgowns and everyone spends the night feeling like the classiest bunch in D.C. This year, it was held in a ballroom at Union Station, (who knew it was more than just a metro station with two Chipotles?!) and it was beautiful. Most seniors kicked off the night by taking endless photos on the steps of the Basilica with all of their friends before heading to Union. Once there, we were greeted with lovely appetizers and cocktails before heading into the main room for dinner. A three-course meal was served on gilded plates and, again, was over-the-top with elegance. But, in true CUA tradition, most of us couldn’t wait long enough to finish our desserts before heading to the completely packed dance floor. As the night reached its close, we swayed to “Wagon Wheel” one last time at one last CUA dance and headed out into the city.
Although the Gala was my favorite, each day and every event was memorable because I spent them with the people who made CUA home to me. Senior week is the time each year for the graduating class to really celebrate all they have accomplished and (emotionally) prepare for their next steps across the stage and then out into the world, ready to use those diplomas to make a difference.
Paige graduated from The Catholic University of America as a member of the Class of 2017. She has worked as an ambassador in the Office of Undergraduate Admission and has taken flight as a graduated Cardinal!