Oh, sure, Bri Cassidy could have somehow found a way to squeeze in the two remaining classes she needed to complete her degree, and then graduate this weekend.
Had she done that, however, Cassidy would have received her diploma informally, perhaps through the mail, given that she and her Nebraska softball teammates will be in Wisconsin to conclude the regular season, and not at Saturday’s commencement ceremony.
While student-athletes sometimes do miss their graduation because of competition, Cassidy was determined to wait until she could walk across that stage.
She had a good reason, too.
Cassidy, a senior from San Bernardino, California, will be the first in her family – parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins – to graduate from a four-year university.
“Being the first in my family,” Cassidy said, “I thought there’s no way I can live with not being able to walk at graduation.”
So Cassidy put off her final two classes for this summer and will graduate in August – with her mother and father planning to be in the audience at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“I have a younger brother who’s a junior in high school, so sort of just setting that foundation for him and just showing him that he can do it too was just super important to me,” Cassidy said. “Growing up where I did, there’s a lot of people who don’t get to go to college, so it was more than just being the first in my family. It was being somebody that other people in my community could look up to.”
Cassidy, who won the Nebraska Heart & Soul Award at last month’s Night at the Lied ceremony, will remain at Nebraska to work on her Masters’ degree. She will enter the MAIAA program, a specialization in collegiate athletic administration. She will have an apprenticeship in the business college during her first year and an apprenticeship in athletics during her second year.
The most important part to her, though, is that she is staying in Nebraska.
“I really do want to live here for the rest of my life,” Cassidy said. “I love it here so much.”
Compare that thought to when Cassidy was attending Cajon High School in southern California.
“To be honest with you,” she said, “I didn’t know where Nebraska was on a map.”