We’re officially alumni!
Congrats, Class of 2017! We made it! Now onto the real world!

But first nine fellow graduates and I decided to take a detour to the South Pacific to celebrate our accomplishments and to avoid reality a little bit longer.

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Two days after walking across the graduation stage and receiving my diploma, I headed to the airport with a group of friends and Dr. Roy Campbell, a history professor, to board a plane to Fiji and Vanuatu for the adventure of a lifetime!

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After ten flights and 23 long hours of travel, we hit the ground running. We first took a ferry to visit the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands of Fiji and explored the most gorgeous beaches; they looked like they were straight out of a postcard! We hiked countless mountains to find the best views of the islands, dined at a floating restaurant, and snorkeled incredibly colorful reefs. Some of us even surfed Cloudbreak, a world famous surf spot south of Namotu Island. Our time in Fiji was capped off by swimming in the Sawa-i-lau Caves, ancient formations on the Yasawa Island where one can explore caverns of limestone fifteen meters high.

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After exploring Fiji, we took a short flight to Vanuatu where we visited the islands of Efate, Espiritu Santo, and Tanna. Hands down, my favorite part of the trip was getting to stand on the edge of the most accessible active volcano in the entire world, Mount Yasur. Located on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, Mount Yasur is where Dr. Campbell proposed to his wife Suzette twenty years ago. We completely understood why he chose that spot after seeing it ourselves! The volcano erupts around every forty-five seconds, shaking the ground with the explosion and shooting red, glowing lava hundreds of feet in the air. It was definitely one of the most frightening, breathtaking, and humbling moments I have ever experienced. The volcano wasn’t all Vanuatu had to offer. We also experienced the local culture, including learning some of the language and customs and meeting new friends along the way. We even swam with white tip sharks, visited black sand hot springs, and sailed on a catamaran to see local snorkel sites.

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Most students immediately dive headfirst into the “adult world,” but thanks to Dr. Campbell, we had the chance to postpone work a little longer and take an unbelievable trip that we will always remember. This is one more reason why I love my alma mater, Presbyterian College!

Ellison Brown is a recent Presbyterian College graduate from Charleston, South Carolina. She majored in accounting and plans to attend the Clemson School of Accountancy in the fall.