I’ve been so busy catching up with friends and family, crocheting, reading, gaming, and basically doing all the stuff that I haven’t been able to do much during my four-year college stint that I forgot to post an important milestone: graduation! Finally! After a divorce 5-1/2 years ago and a layoff 4-1/2 years ago, at age 40 I am now a college graduate. The reality of it comes in bits and pieces – when I fill out online forms and they ask for my educational level, when I realize I have nothing to study for, in the quiet moments when I’m not doing anything.
But the world didn’t end and May 12th, 2013 (G-Day) arrived. My family was there to support me and tease me (I still think my Dad was the loudest one in there). I joked and laughed with the fellow graduates sitting close to me. I watched as each student was announced and walked across the stage to receive the book their diploma would later be slipped into (we actually get them in the mail). I saw friends receive their doctorate degrees, their master degrees, their undergraduate degrees – all the faces that had become so familiar to me over the last few years. By the time my turn came, I was a bundle of nerves, the noise inside the Fedex Forum completely muted. I handed my name card to the assistant who passed it on to the announcer who called my name and I walked across the stage to shake the hand of the first female University of Memphis President, Shirley Raines. I made it the rest of the way across without tripping over my feet and floated on air back to my seat. The noise volume in the Forum went back up. I had done it. Four years of studying, stressing, researching, and reading all led up to the moment that went by in seconds. I was a Pannell college graduate, graduating with cum laude honors. The first one in our immediate family.
The ride isn’t quite over yet. I’m taking advantage of the down time summer break is providing me, but come fall semester, I start my graduate studies in School Psychology. I’m looking forward to it as it will be a different kind of studying, a different kind of workload, and the final stage of my college career (unless I decide to get my doctorate later). I feel accomplished. It’s been a long, hard, and sometimes heart-breaking road, but I’m at the best time of my life and I’m enjoying every day of it.