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Graduation Day

By Luke Blount

I’m a college graduate. After seventeen years of education, I have finally received that special piece of paper that proves I’m somewhat coherent. I’m a college graduate. It really is an accomplishment, but I don’t quite feel like I thought I would. I just have to keep reminding myself; I’m a college graduate.

Up until this point in my life, there was always an obvious next step. Graduating from high school and college were musts for me, not really goals or dreams. Now I hold my dreams and goals and life ambitions in my own hands, and to be honest, it is kind of scary. What’s next?

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind as I was working two jobs and finishing up my final thirteen hours of school. In addition, I started applying for full-time jobs. I even interviewed for the one position that I really wanted, but I didn’t get it. Nonetheless, there was always something to do, whether it was working, studying, or arranging plans for separate graduation meals with my mother and father.

My parents have been divorced for twelve years, but apparently that still isn’t long enough for them to have civil conversations with each other. At any type of event for me and my sister, my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side stand at least twenty yards away, looking at each other like some unknown species. My job is to ping pong back and forth and make sure they all say what they need to and know where I’ll meet them later. For this day, I decided to have lunch with Mom and dinner with Dad–pretty standard procedure.

When graduation Saturday came, I arrived on time and waited for my one moment and my diploma. I just didn’t realize how long I would be waiting. The ceremony itself lasted more than three hours, and I didn’t walk the stage until two hours had gone by. Not only did I pay thousands of dollars to be tortured in silent classrooms for four years, but I had to endure three more hours of the same to get the proof.

After I received my diploma, and the ceremony mercifully ended, I talked with my dad, who had been crying, and then my mom, who had been doing the same. I am just the third person on my father’s side of the family to have a college degree–the other two being my dad and sister. Yet, I still felt generally the same as I did the day before. After lunch with Mom, I drove to my dad’s hotel, only to realize after I got to the door of Room 310 that I had gone to the wrong hotel. I think my dad put it best when he said, “And you’re supposed to be a college graduate?”

Throughout my college experience, I always felt that my work experience gave me much more valuable information than what I learned in the classroom, and I still hold this to be true for the most part. However, that piece of paper means something much more than experience: It proves loyalty, perseverance, self-motivation, and competence. And for most it gives confidence. I’m not any smarter today than I was four years ago, but I definitely know and understand more.

The whole graduation experience was a series of ups and downs. Finishing my last test, last final, and receiving that diploma are liberating, joyous moments. But with that freedom comes more responsibility. I was already putting myself through school financially for the most part, but now I’m really alone. I wasn’t exactly prepared for that realization, but I’m ready now. As I walked away from my final exam, I turned back to look at the campus that had become my home. It already seemed like a distant memory, and as I looked up, Baylor offered me one more message before I was gone. The sky behind me was dark and cloudy, and the world in front was sunny and clear. Here’s to the blue skies ahead.

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