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CINCINNATI - Thousands of college students are set to embark on new professional journeys after their four (or more)-year investments at local universities came to a close Saturday.
Northern Kentucky University, College of Mount Saint Joseph, Miami University, Thomas More College and Xavier University all held commencement ceremonies during the day.
"I'm ecstatic," said Xavier grad Kelsey Paduano, a criminal justice major who hopes to get a job in the FBI. "It was kind of nerve-wracking until I got on the stage and it just--It just feels great"
Jackie Hart, another Xavier grad, said she was so excited to graduate that she couldn't feel her toes. Although, she wasn't sure if that feeling came from adrenaline or the shoes she was wearing, she said laughing.
Paduano and Hart are two of the 1,102 undergraduates that were awarded degrees during Xavier's 175th commencement ceremony. There were also 853 graduate students who were awarded degrees during a separate ceremony.
But what does the future hold for these budding chemists, businessmen, doctors, marketers and journalists?
A new study indicates that graduates across the nation will face a tough job market.
The unemployment rate for recent college grads between the ages of 21 to 24 has averaged 8.8 percent over the last year, according to Labor Department data. By comparison, that number was 5.7 percent in 2007.
According to a CNN Money article , if you look at young grads who are working part-time for economic reasons and those who have stopped looking for a job in the last year, the so-called "underemployment rate" is a whopping 18.3 percent.
However, that ugly professional reality did not seem to affect the mood of the students who walked across the floor at various Tri-State venues to receive their diplomas, a symbol of the hard work they've put in over the years.
Hart, who wants to be an English teacher, is taking a realistic approach to the job hunt.
"I'm going to try and find a job and something that I can do while I'm looking, maybe [substitute teaching]" she said.
There are some things to be optimistic for the newest alumni of various Greater Cincinnati centers of higher education. Statistics still show that college graduates will go on to earn two times more than people who've only earned a high school diploma.
Hart said she feels prepared to take on whatever comes her way in the professional world or life, and thinks her college experience is responsible.
"I feel prepared, as prepared as I can be," she said. "Xavier definitely prepared me for the future."
9 On Your Side reporter Mekialaya White contributed to this report
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