Two weeks ago today, I had my final graduate school class for my master's degree in library and information science, and this past weekend I went down to Champaign-Urbana for the ceremonies celebrating that fact.
I can understand why a lot of people choose not to go or have a dislike for the pomp and circumstance. They can run long or the speakers can be dull and the hats and gowns are expensive to rent (plus, let's be honest, they look a bit silly), but I am so glad that I made the trip and that I had my family by my side to celebrate with me. In the week between my last class and commencement, it didn't feel real or like anything had changed. I was still me. I woke up the next day and went to my job like I always do, but there's just something about standing up when they call on you, walking across that stage, and moving that tassel from the right side of your hat to the left that finally made the whole thing tangible - I dedicated myself to something, I accomplished this goal of mine, and I've even managed to make my family proud of me along the way.
My rejection letters from various agents continue to hang on the same wall that my diploma for my B.A. in English hangs, and once my new diploma for my M.S. arrives, it will join them. All of these pieces of paper represent similar things to me; they are evidence that I have tried. With all do respect to Yoda, sometimes all you can do is try. I worked my hardest, put my best self and my best work out there, and sometimes you get a rejection letter, but other times, you get a diploma which shows that hard work does pay off, and to me they are all things to be proud of.
I wish I had something more wise or profound to say than that, but I feel like my relief at not having homework for the first time in 18 years has robbed me of my vocabulary temporarily (which I need for my WIP!). Also, my commencement speaker Cokie Roberts said it all so well with a mixture of humor and grace that with our degrees, we now have no excuse for not contributing to the greater picture and giving back to the people and world that give us so much. I couldn't agree with her sentiments more.
I cannot emphasize enough though how NONE of this could have happened without the support of my family and friends. It's not everyday that a daughter springs on her parents that she wants to go to get her English degree/go to library school/be a writer/put them on the internet/explore a bunch of things and ideas they're less familiar with, but I'm so lucky that my parents have been nothing but supportive through it all. It means everything to me that they have stood by me no matter what, and I was so happy to be able to share my special day with them, my grandparents, my big brother, and my soon-to-be sister. I couldn't have asked for better company.
And so, I hope you enjoy the videos below chronicling my graduation weekend. Thank you so much to those who take the time to read this blog and to the family and friends who encourage me in my many (often crazy-seeming) endeavors - none of this would have happened were it not for you!