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The Antelope

Excitement rises as graduation nears

UNK senior Hannah Keen installs one of her final projects to prepare for graduation. Keen’s future goals include moving to the coast to attend graduate school and becoming a marine biologist.

One UNK senior reflects on her past, discusses plans for the future

Alana Kellen

Graduation is right around the corner for the seniors leaving in December. Now is the time for them to finish up their final assignments and prepare to move on to the next steps of their lives.

Hannah Keen, a senior from Minden studying biology with a wildlife emphasis, is nearing the end of her time spent at UNK. Keen chose to come to UNK because she knew she wanted to go to a graduate school somewhere on the coast. This decision would help her save money for her future endeavors.

Keen has been interested in biology since she was in middle school. She has always loved being behind a microscope, but when her family took a trip to Hawaii, she truly realized what she wanted to with her life. 

“We took a submarine ride and that’s when I fell in love with the ocean and everything in it,” Keen said. “From that point on, I knew that the ocean was where I belonged.” 

While at UNK, Keen has made some great memories that she will never forget. One of her memories is from a field trip she took in Ichthyology where they were practicing some techniques in the water. 

“We were in chest high waters, and being the clumsy person I am, I slipped on a rock and fell full-body in,” Keen said. “I remember specifically dumping a ton of water out of my boots. It was super embarrassing, but it makes me laugh when I think about it.”

After graduation, Keen hopes to get a job she applied for with Alaskan Observers as a North Pacific ground worker that works on large fishing boats. If she gets the job, she will be following her dream and moving to the coast after graduation. Eventually, she plans to enter a graduate program to learn more about marine biology. 

Keen is excited to graduate because she will be the first in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree. 

“Many of my family members made sacrifices for my siblings and I so we could do anything we set our hearts on,” Keen said. “It feels awesome to give those people some gratification for all the work they did as well.”

The reason Keen went the biology route was because of her mom. Keen says this degree is for herself, but if it had not been for her mom, she would not be where she is today. 

“My mom dreamed of going the biology route, but when she was in high school, one of her counselors laughed at her for wanting to do marine biology coming from Nebraska,” Keen said. “She is the one that her and I had to be dragged out of aquariums because we could sit there all day.”

Along with excitement, Keen is having nervous jitters about graduating in the next few weeks. She feels as if there is so much to do in the little amount to time she has to do it. Even though the end is stressful for Keen, she has a support system that continues to stick behind her: her family and her best friend Ciara.

“She is the one that would get ice cream with me when I was stressed, celebrate my accomplishments and say she was proud of me, and tell me things were going to be okay when I felt like they weren’t,” Keen said. “Even though I plan on moving away from Nebraska, she 100% supports me and wants what’s best for me.”

Though Keen is nearing the end of her time spent at UNK, she is excited to move on to her next steps in life. Keen says that she will miss the “home-feeling” of Kearney the most. 

“I’m thankful I didn’t go to a school so far away in the beginning,” Keen said. “I’m grateful that I got to stay close to my friends and family that are here.”

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