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commencement

I can remember how mad my mom was at me at my graduation ceremony for my BFA.  She was upset with me that I wasn’t excited or wanting to take pictures like everyone else.  The reason why is that I finished my degree in December of 2009 but they only did a ceremony in May, so I was walking a whole semester after I technically graduated and had already began my master’s degree.  So, unlike everyone else who was excited because they were done with their programs and entering a new world, I was still in school and not really done with anything.

Well, now that I am graduating in May, I have a feeling my mom will be upset again.  I have yet to get excited, I am instead getting terrified.  Yes, I do plan on going for my doctorate someday, but unlike when I started my master’s program, it will be a while until I return to school.  This is like the real thing.  Should I be excited?  I am leaving a comfort zone, with no job in sight, loans that will come calling and nothing but a piece of paper to comfort me.  Is this what brings on excitement?

Does anyone else feel this terror I do?  Maybe there is a magical dome that covers the graduation ceremony that will suddenly trigger my emotions to change?  Maybe the sheer relief of not having the stress of a grade looming over my head 24/7 will at least cause a wide smile that will fool my mother to think I am excited?  Or possibly right now I am just filling with my regular doubts and by the time I am done it will all fade away.  I hope so.  This is supposed to be the time when we take our lives into our own hands and show the world what we are made of.  I have never felt more confident in my abilities as a teacher based on the knowledge and experience I have gained from my studies and experiences at Fontbonne, so maybe that is the trick.  I honestly, have never had such a great educational experience as I have here.  So I guess May will show if excitement takes over!

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So… this is it. I’m done with classes. I have one more brief paper to write and hand off, and I’m done. Less than two weeks from now, I’ll walk the stage, dressed in a gown I’ll wear one time ever.

Frankly? It’s anti-climactic. There’s not some big banner I run through at the finish line. Confetti doesn’t drop from the ceiling when I walk out the door. Of course, I guess that all goes with the graduation ceremony, but… I’m done now. Why doesn’t it feel like it?

Here’s why: Because life keeps going on. For three and a half years, Fontbonne University has been my job. Not just “school,” but work – I treat it like a duty, something to be invested in because it will pay off. And now, this job is suddenly done… but really, it was never just some “task” to be completed, in spite of what I may have told myself. Fontbonne University has been a process. It’s been a process of learning, of coming to terms with the world around me and my fluid place in that world.

What I need you to understand, before I can leave this place in peace, is that I should not be congratulated as though I have accomplished some great feat. Many before me have graduated, and many will graduate after me. Admittedly I think my experience and accomplishments are unique, but certainly every experience at any school should be a unique one. What I need to make clear is that if I have accomplished anything worth congratulating, it is the people who have guided and inspired me to achieve such accomplishments who deserve congratulations.

In an initial draft of this blog, I was writing an individual note of thanks to each person… except there were simply too many names and too many things to say individually. So, so many people have made this an incredible experience. Their compassion, their demands for excellence, their words and their listening and their efforts have made such a difference.

I will leave Fontbonne with a set of skills derived from an education like no other. I will leave here with a trust in myself unlike anything I have ever had; I trust not only my mind, but also my spirit. I have grown here in so many ways. I have become more than I ever thought I’d be.

I almost hate to say this, just because I find it horribly cliché to wrap up this way… but it’s true, so I will say it all the same. Truly, Fontbonne has kept the promised offered to me when I came here: “Learn More, Be More.”

Thanks for reading. It’s been wonderful writing here. Good luck on finals, students; have a wonderful holiday season, everyone.

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Graduation was held on December 18, 2010, on campus at Fontbonne. I believe this is the first year that they separated the ceremonies of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I received my master’s so the ceremony was that morning. I had such a wonderful time. I was able to invite all of my family instead of a select few because we didn’t have to get tickets. My children, parents and a few other relatives all came. I rang the bell after the ceremony (my hands still hurt from that.) There was a moment when I cried; one of the graduating students passed away from cancer and her children were there to accept her degree. That was very sad but beautiful. I am an alum. I’ve been one for some years, I received my bachelor’s at Fontbonne as well. I would like to thank the university, its faculty and staff, all of the instructors and all of its supporters for making Fontbonne such a fine institution!

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.