So for me, school is over. I graduated on Friday. I've finally completed something I started way back in 1992, when I took my first graduate school class.
Friday morning, I met my fellow graduates in the gym by Homewood field. We helped each other figure out the mystery of how to wear a hood with our cap and gowns. A half hour before graduation we were still discussing classes, papers, professors. We were done, but the idea hadn't caught up to us yet, and we were still very much students together.
We marched across the astroturf, and through the tunnel set up for us. We joked, pointed out each others families, noticed how serious and young the other graduates were, the engineers and scientists. We settled in to our rows, fanning each other, cooling each other with water bottles. We listened to the speakers, although they seemed to be speaking to the other graduates. We were exhorted to solve the problems of climate change, and our planet. We asked each other if we could manage that with an essay or poem... We watched for our pictures on the huge video screens, applauded when one of us came into view.
We waited our turn. The other graduates walked solemnly across the stage. serious hand shakes, a quick pose for a photograph. degree after degree.
At last, our turn. Master of Arts in Liberal Arts. We got our hand shake, but also hugs, and a few tears. Back to our seats and a chance to relax a bit. We congratulated each other, and told each other how proud and happy we were to graduate together. And we meant it.
I got a piece of paper on Friday, a degree that says the University recognizes my achievement. But what I got for the last 5 years was worth much more -- a real community that will always be a part of me.