Many people around the world consider their college graduation day as a milestone, and rightfully so. It is, after all, a consolidation of decades of hard work and sacrifice. To an extent, I thought of it as the beginning of the realization of my goals. We started out with learning our ABCs and additions and subtractions, which later morphed into the complex forms of writing essays of various kinds and tear-jerking quadratic formulas. My journey to college was not easy situation either – to get to college, you need to prepare for the SAT exams. Grades needed to be presentable, and learning how to write an effective personal statement was crucial.
The aroma of coffee wafting through a sleepless night came back to me as I picked out my graduation dress. My mom accompanied me to a nearby store right outside town, and by the end of the shopping trip, we have settled into a nice cafe. It is amazing how for the first time in years, I get to enjoy a cup of coffee without the weight of the finals week on my back.
Today, I am wearing that same dress that brought me so many realizations. I also wear my toga and graduation cap, which I decorated on top with a collage of photos my family and myself – we are one of the lucky few who were allowed to exercise our creative spirits. I entered the venue, and thousands of thundering claps welcomed us. Speeches were made by various figures: the guest of honor, the administration, and so on. Another round of applause echoes as each class were asked to line up along the corridor. We were to wait for our turn to go the stage, where we will receive our school souvenirs. Everyone was excited, and when it was our turn to receive the items, we were happy.
A little tribute was made for our teachers after that. As the class monitor, I was tasked to collect the bouquet of flowers provided for by the student council. We all stood up and sang a special song for our dear professors, which we have been practicing in secret. I looked at my favorite history professor, Ms. Tanika, and she smiled at me. Becoming friends with your professor is no easy task, but I am glad I found a true friend and mentor in her. I smiled back, and after that, I felt the wave of unexplainable sadness take over me. Sad that I will leave my educational years forever, along with Ms. Tanika as my mentor. Happy, however, over the fact that it is now my turn to make a difference in the world.
Soon, we were in line once more to receive our diplomas. Although the venue was packed, I found my family by the stage as my name was called. I happily received my college diploma, the proof of all the years of my hard work. I was all smiles for the photographs and videos being taken, and I can only hope that they all look good! I need to remember this graduation day well for the rest of my life.
When all of the diplomas and special awards were given, the school’s chairman, Mr. Gary Turner, asked us to all stand. He gave everyone in the hall a special blessing for our upcoming licensure examinations, which will be happening in two month’s time. This is unlike preparing for the SAT exams; the licensure will determine if we have the capacity to practice our field or not, and the state of nervousness came back as people around me remembered. I became just as nervous, but it quickly left once the speech was over.
After the blessing and speech, the lights were dimmed and the white projector screen rolled down from the ceiling of the stage. The projector was opened, and there, a video was played. To many enthusiastic reactions, it was a video containing many videos and photographs of our batch. We laughed at silly photos, nervous smiles, and sleepless morning looks. By the end of it, many of us were wiping tears away. I looked and caught the eye of my friends, who smiled at me sadly. A lot of things will change – life after college will definitely be different, especially when it comes to friendship. I hope we stay the same, though.
As the lights went back up again, we stood up to sing the school song. It was the finale of the entire ceremony, and our very last time of singing the school song. For the first time since I got here, I heard my fellow students sing the school song with so much happiness and pride. I sang along with them, and I felt such fondness for my school and all the memories I have built here. After that, it was over. The host congratulated and thanked us. We were directed to the canteen after that for some refreshments, where I reunited my family.
None of us touched those juice cocktails, however, as we began taking so many photos. I posed with each member of my family, and then posed for several more by myself holding my diploma. After that, my friends and I went on our way to find each other. After eating a few of those finger foods served in platters, like spring rolls and select chips, we began taking photos once more. We decided to leave the canteen and walk around the campus, clad in our heels and toga still. Our diplomas were safely tucked away in the bags of our mothers.
Walking around the campus and chatting away brought back a sense of nostalgia, despite feeling elated that I have finally conquered the hell that is college. We decided to settle on our favorite spot, a little hidden garden behind the College of Law building. We talked about our upcoming exams, our plans, and of course, the reality of life catching up to our friendship.
Soon, we had to part ways – respective celebrations with our families needed to happen. On the way back, however, I felt something I have never felt before. It seemed like a fusion of feelings, different emotions attacking all at once. The feeling grew when I got ready for bed that night. I will miss my friends, my mentors, and my school. Things will never be the same again, and that part of my life is done and over. I looked back and realized so much. I hated those schooling days as it happened. I hated waking up early, I hated sorting through my homework trying to finish them in one night. I hated all the times I went through finals week and what really happens during it, and all the instant ramen I had to eat – I wished I had learned more college dorm meal recipes. But, even though I have been through one of the most challenging times of my life, I realized that I will miss all of that.
I will never get those days back again, and although the thought is sad, I have my entire life facing me now. It is now time to make my mark in the world.