A blog post from recent MA in Higher Education Leadership graduate, Maren Reisch:
There’s something about a milestone that is bittersweet. Birthdays are great, but they mean we’re another year older. The holidays are fun, but there’s always that exhausted let down at the end.
But that let down doesn’t exist at graduation ceremonies. Because commencement is a beginning, not an ending. There’s so much potential in what we could do, or might do, or dream of doing. There’s a feeling of anticipation as graduates walk across the stage (hopefully without tripping), shake an important hand, and receive a document holder that will one day have a diploma inside of it. There is excitement, tears, laughter, and pride as the newest classes of graduates emerge from their degree programs, newly equipped to take on the world.
This year, I graduated with my Master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership. It’s been a whirlwind two years. Commencement day feels like a blur, but five specific thoughts were running through my head all throughout the ceremony.
- You will remember this day for the rest of your life. Okay, probably a grandiose thing to think, but it’s true. Just like my commencement from undergrad, this ceremony is meaningful and symbolizes a passage from student to practitioner.
- What do I do with all this stuff? “Stuff” refers to everything—bags, phones, robes, cords, leis, stoles, and caps. There are so many things that are on your person during the ceremony that it’s almost hard to move. Plus, the giant robe makes even the smallest motion pretty monumental. My robe was getting trapped under my chair and tangled up in my legs through the whole ceremony. It took me awhile to get situated, but I think if I ever go through commencement again, I’ll leave all of my things with someone who’s not wearing seven layers of stuff!
- Where is my family? I’m from the east coast, but I somehow had nine people here for me during the ceremony. When I entered the Jenny Craig Pavilion, the first thing I thought was “Wow, there’s a lot of people in the stands!” The second thing I thought was “Where’s my group?” I managed to find them because my mom was standing up and waving with both hands. It was my favorite moment of the whole ceremony because I could tell how proud she was of me, even from so far away. I periodically checked in on my family once I’d located them in the stands. It helped me stay grounded and present to know that they were there supporting me!
- Have hope, have faith, and stay positive. Not very many people in my program graduated with a job already lined up. It’s been a struggle to stay positive in the job hunt as I watch my bank account dwindle and my graduate assistantship draw to a close. But I have faith in the work that I’ve done and the degree that I’ve earned. I will be employed soon, and I will use the skills and talents that USD has sharpened to engage in meaningful work.
- I am ready. I am prepared for whatever is next on my journey, no matter what it is. I am so grateful to have this education, and I know that wherever I go next I will embrace new experiences with an open heart. I am welcoming the uncertainty, leaning into the discomfort of transition, and I am ready.