For a few McDaniel College graduates, post-commencement means a chance of a lifetime.
This year, the college has four students chosen for Fulbright awards, the most in one year McDaniel has ever had.
Seniors Ema Barnes and Jaime Calderon, and graduate students Mariah Ligas and Maggie Myers have been awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships to teach English in the Czech Republic, Andorra, Romania and South Korea, respectively, according to a news release from the college.
This is the fourth consecutive year that at least one McDaniel student has been named a Fulbright recipient, according to the release. A total of 10 McDaniel students have been awarded Fulbright scholarships.
Myers, who graduates from in the Better Educators for Students of Tomorrow, or BEST, graduate program this month with a master's degree in secondary education, has been a student teacher at Shiloh Middle School in Hampstead, student-taught at Manchester Valley High School in Manchester and also served as a substitute ESOL teacher in Carroll County Public Schools.
The Finksburg native will be going to teach English in South Korea, and said she always knew she wanted to study or teach abroad.
"I was definitely shocked and so excited" when chosen for a Fulbright, Myers said. "I had a really good feeling and I was hopeful."
McDaniel really helped get her to where she is, Myers said.
"Overall, I'd say that I had a great experience at McDaniel and I couldn't be more thankful of it because it got me to where I am today and now I have a Fulbright."
Calderon, who is originally from El Salvador and came to the United States at 15, majored in Spanish and minored in English literature. Most recently, he lived in Virginia.
Getting chosen for the Fulbright award was a nice relief, Calderon said.
"It was like a load off your shoulders," he said, adding that it was nice to know what he'd be doing after graduation. "Everything that I've done so far has paid off."
Calderon said he'd known about the program since his freshman year, so he was ready to apply come senior year.
He's no stranger to travel. Calderon has studied abroad in Peru with "The Forest Online," an interdisciplinary course at McDaniel that took place during the 2016 January term, and has also traveled to Montreal, according to the release. And he's taught English before, Calderon said.
But, he's never taught English in a foreign country. Even still, Calderon said he's excited.
"The idea of teaching others is a great thing," he said.
Barnes, of New Zealand, was a double major in English and political science with a specialization in international studies at McDaniel. She is a 2013 graduate of Lowell High School in San Francisco.
She'll be heading to the Czech Republic to teach English, although eventually, she said, she hopes to go into publishing.
"The language is definitely going to be very challenging for me," Barnes said.
Teaching will also be something new for her, she added, and she'll have to work to find the right balance between education and authority.
But she's looking forward to sharing the language and literature with kids.
"I think that literature has the power to change people's perspective," Barnes said. "You can lose yourself in a book."
Ligas, a graduate student from Virginia, will come out of the BEST graduate program this month with a master's degree in secondary education. She has been a student teacher at Westminster High School during her time at McDaniel.
Ligas has traveled to Germany and loves the language. When she was in Germany, she taught English, she said.
"I really found parts of myself I enjoyed and I knew I wanted to go back," she said.
But when it came to Fulbright, she thought she could go back to Germany any time, and it was time to do something different, Ligas said.
She'll be going to Romania, and teaching at the college level at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, she said.
"I love language so I'm trying to grab Romanian by the horns," Ligas said. "I'm very excited."
McDaniel's commencement, during which the school will award more than 600 undergraduate and graduate degrees, will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20. Procession begins from McDaniel's Baker Memorial Chapel at 9:45 a.m. with the commencement ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in Gill Center, according to the release.
College historian James E. Lightner is the commencement speaker.
Immediately following the ceremony, the new graduates have the opportunity to ring the Old Main bell in Memorial Plaza signaling the completion of their degrees, according to the release. Students have the chance to ring the bell during move in, and again after they graduate.
What: 147th McDaniel College commencement
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20
Where: Gill Center at McDaniel College, 2 College Hill in Westminster
Students assemble at McDaniel's Baker Memorial Chapel at 9 a.m. Procession begins at 9:45 a.m. to the Gill Center. In case of rain, students will proceed to Gill Center from Old Gill Gym.