Students discuss where to live after graduation

Downtown Florence is a main attraction for the Shoals area. Students like senior Willie Bland are “comfortable in the Shoals area,” while others, like junior Ryan Quinn, want to “experience the world and see what new things I can see.”

One of the most prominent questions among high school students is, “what do I want to do for the rest of my life?” For graduating college students it becomes, “Where should I go from here?”

Nearly 6,000 undergraduates have attempted to answer the first question (some are still undecided), but a new question for UNA students is if Florence can be more than just a college landing spot.

Many factors may go into the decision to stay in Florence or leave for another city, but, for most, the decision is probably based on a career opportunity.

Outgoing SGA President KeKoria Greer plans to walk in the graduation ceremony in May, but will officially graduate from UNA in the summer after her internship.

“I’m planning to intern in either Washington, D.C. or in Montgomery at the state capitol,” Greer said.

Greer is a public relations major with aspirations of moving to a bigger city, but still has an appreciation for Florence.

“Florence is a beautiful place,” she said. “I believe it’s growing. Florence has that tight-knit community and the downtown area can tell you what’s going on around the city.”

Greer also mentioned while she enjoys Florence, she wouldn’t mind taking a job in a bigger city.

“I have nothing against Florence, but I want to be able to branch off and get that career first,” she said. “If my career brings me back to Florence, I wouldn’t mind that at all.”

Senior Willie Bland found his way to Florence from Cincinnati two years ago via a football scholarship. Bland said he has been able to adjust to life in Florence just fine.

“I’m definitely comfortable in the Shoals area,” Bland said. “I could see myself here long term.”

Bland, coming from a bigger city, compared the two and determined he could not go wrong with either environment.

“I like that (Florence) is such a close community,” he said.“It’s like everything you need is right in front of you or close by.”

At 6-foot-7-inches, Bland expressed how hard it is for him to find attire that fits him in Florence.

“The main thing I like about bigger cities is shopping,” Bland said. “I have a hard time finding clothes and shoes my size in the Shoals, and of course, I’ll always miss my sports teams in Cincinnati.”

Junior Ryan Quinn is a member of the ROTC program and a geography major. He said he will go wherever the military or his career will take him.

“After graduation, I plan on commissioning into the National Guard,” Quinn said. “I will hopefully get a job in a geography area either in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia or Montana, since I was born and raised there.”

Quinn said he would prefer to move outside of Florence and explore other places of the world after he graduates.

“I’d probably go outside (of Florence) just to experience the world and see what new things I can see,” he said. “If you stay in one location, that’s all you will see and you will never know what else is out there.”