TAMPA, Fla. — Some of the biggest moments in a person’s life are the day you graduate from college and the day you walk down the aisle. A pair of University of South Florida grads managed to do both in one day.
Emily and Sean Rooks have had a lot to celebrate. They’ve been together for eight years, meeting at Ave Maria University.
“I was playing college basketball there. She was playing college lacrosse,” said Sean. “Stopped going to school, moved back here, got into the professional world, wanted to finish our degree to set a good example for our daughter, so we got into the same program.”
Both were in USF’s College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.
They eventually got engaged and planned to elope, but recently, had another idea: to get married on the same day as their graduation.
“We knew we were graduating, and we were like you know what if we just go to the botanical gardens right before and get married?” said Emily.
On Friday, the couple fit everything into a tightly packed schedule, with a wedding one hour, then off to graduation the next.
“First, we went to the botanical gardens, and we had a bunch of photos done,” said Emily. “That was at 4 p.m., and then the ceremony was around like 4:30 p.m., and then we quickly took pictures, and we had to be out of there by 5 p.m. Then, we had to be at the graduation at 5:30 p.m., so we were early enough to get into our seats and everything.”
They got married on campus at the USF Botanical Gardens. Emily even wore her wedding dress under her graduation gown.
“Once I paid that much for a dress, I was like, I have to wear it longer than just the hour,” said Emily. “I decorated my cap that says just married, and it was a big celebration.”
The congratulations didn’t stop at the altar either. Instead, the newlyweds got a special shoutout during their commencement.
The couple graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Language Speech Hearing Science.
“It was great. You know it’s been a long-time coming,” said Emily. “Obviously, I want to spend the rest of my life with him.”
It was a special day that started with “I do” and ended with diplomas in hand, and now the Rooks are ringing in a new chapter of life together.
“An emotional roller coaster yesterday, for sure. I mean, obviously, we are very excited to get married, but that comes saying our vows in front of people is emotional, and then it’s like a whole different emotion graduating,” said Sean. “The word that she likes to use is resilience. We kind of just stuck it out, and it was not easy. It’s not easy to go to school with a kid. It’s not easy to go to school with a career, but it’s worth it.”
This article was written by Mary O'Connell for WFTS.