Feb 26, 2014 1:41 PM by Katie de la Rosa
Robert Pecaut will graduate in May in industrial design on time, but not after having faced his share of obstacles - or one, to be exact.
"Jerry!" exclaimed the 23-year-old from Baton Rouge, referring to Jerry Malinowski, Ph.D., director of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette architecture department. "He's something else."
Almost as soon as the 2014 Grad Expo opened at 10 a.m., more than 50 soon-to-be graduates filed in the UL Lafayette Alumni Center to order their caps and gowns, rings, graduation invitations and diploma frames. Representatives from the university's graduate school, credit union and insurance provider were on hand to tell each student who walked in the door "congratulations."
Catherine Baudoin, director of alumni affairs, said all bachelor's, master's and doctoral spring 2014 graduates attend this event, but the number of participants is different each semester.
"It ranges from 650 to 850, but we don't know if the rain is going to affect that today," Baudoin said, nodding her head toward the soaked St. Mary Boulevard.
The weather didn't prevent Sadie Crackower from attending, as the 22-year-old psychology senior browsed the four different types of "Class of 2014" T-shirts.
"I had a baby, so I would've graduated if it weren't for that," said Crackower, who after five years in college is fewer than three months away from receiving her degree. "Another thing is time management. I had to work and go to school, and that requires a lot."
Crackower said she plans to "get a job and eventually go to grad school," but at the moment she is ready to "take a break."
Three students wearing vermilion caps and gowns laughed while waiting in line to have their portraits taken. Mike Francingues, a 23-year-old senior in journalism, smiled wide as a bright flash illuminated the room for only a second.
The expo stretches across the entire Alumni Center, and Baudoin said it's a result of months of hard work.
"Yeah, it takes only two days to set up and take down, but much planning from all departments happens at least two months in advance," Baudoin said.
Along with a free lunch, students receive free one-year memberships to the Alumni Center and a discounted rate of $20 per year for five years after graduation. The discount is $30 for couples.
Industrial design senior Jarrod Dufour said he is happy to be at this point after five years at UL Lafayette, where he initially studied accounting. He said his best memory from college is the people he's met, but then he paused.
"Actually," the 23-year-old said, "it'll be my degree."
The Grad Expo lasts until 5:30 p.m.