Monday, May 16, 2011
Graduation was fantastic. I walked in the College of Social Work convocation on the 5th because I work in the CSW and they all have a lot invested in me. My roommates and parents came to the convocation, and the Masters cohort I've been the assistant for for the last 3 years was graduating too. I walked across the stage of Kingsbury Hall as Ruth Geertisen-McKane read my name a degree and a loud cheer- louder than I was expecting- went through the Hall. Norma handed me my diploma holder and I posed for a picture with Dean Mather and Norma. Jennifer waited at the end of the stage and gave me hug.
As I sat in Kingsbury listening to the speakers talk about social work and the profession, all things not particularly relevant to me, I realized that I finally made it. I'm not an exceptionally emotional person, it takes a lot for me to cry, but there were more than a few times that I had to blink back tears during the convocation. I was finally graduating, 10 years after graduating from high school, a kidney transplant, broken back, failed pancreas transplant, rejected kidney, and nearly a year and a half of dialysis, I was graduating from college. All on my own.
After Dean Mather told us we were "now all social workers", the convocation ended. I managed to find Mehgan and Lacey, and eventually we found my parents and went to Little America for dessert. Commencement was the next day, as was my college's convocation which I elected not to walk in after all. But commencement, that was a different story.
Because of my family's affinity for being early to things, we arrived at the Jon M. Huntsman center about 7:15 a.m. Graduates didn't need to be there until, at earliest. 7:30. But we got a sweet, sweet partking spot right next to the arena, and had time to meander around the perimeter of the the JMHC and enjoy the warm May morning and the beautiful campus below us (corny, yes, but this place means a lot to me!). Because of our earliness I was in the front of one of the Bachelors degrees lines. Jenny and Katelyn found me in line so I had some friends to enjoy commencement with.
Finally 8:20 arrived and we began our procession into the arena, through the tunnel. One of the greatest moments of my life was the moment we walked onto the floor of the Huntsman Center, with the Wind Ensemble playing graduation music and people in the stands; the stage set up for graduation and seats on the floor for graduate level and distinction students. We marched across the floor in our caps and gowns and were seated in the stands, I was on the second row from the floor across from the stage. Then the faculty and University Trustees and distinguished guests marched in with Michael K. Young and commencement began.
Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You'll Meet in Heaven) was the commencement speaker and he was fabulous. I couldn't have wished for a better speaker than Mitch, and my mother, who attended Tim's commencement at BYU last year said in not so many words that this one was MUCH better. Then President Young, in his last Utah commencement, conferred upon the Masters and Ph.D candidates their degrees, then conferred upon the Bachelors candidates their degrees, and we were graduated. I turned my tassel (again) and was Sarah Rosalie Jackman, B.A.
Katelyn, Jenny, and I walked up the stairs to the concourse and as I walked through the doors out of the arena I threw up my hands and yelled "College graduates!! Yeeeaahh!!!) in a fashion more Hollywood-esque than I like to admit. But it felt good, and as I walked through the Huntsman Center concourse and ran in to fellow graduates whom I've known throughout my experience at Utah, I realized that it doesn't get any better than this for a college student. This day, the hour and a half of commencement, the hour of waiting for the processional to start, the five minutes of marching, and the "recessional" around the arena and out into the world, figuratively and literally, really doesn't get much better.
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