At around 9:30 p.m. last night – barring total, utter failure on my finals – I graduated from college. There was no pomp and circumstance. No awkward square hat or ridiculous-fitting gown. No celebration keg awaiting me at a friend’s house.
Feeling a need to mark the occasion, I did the best I could on a Sunday night: cranking up the song “Celebration” and doing a Tom Cruise, “Risky Business”-esque dance, slipping and sliding in socks and pajamas across my kitchen floor. My neighbors probably thought I was nuts; my boyfriend definitely did. But it would have felt nuttier to have simply closed my online test – and with it a significant chapter of my life – and just gone off to brush my teeth.
That isn’t to say I was denied the usual college graduation celebration. It just came six months and 28 days early. Last May, I “walked” in two graduation ceremonies – one for journalism, the other for communication studies. My family was there to take pictures as I accepted my empty diploma holder. I wore the gown, though mine had a unique touch – an iron-sized hole in the bottom left, courtesy of a helpful friend the morning of the ceremony. And I enjoyed a few beers with my buddies.
My plan in May was to work as a summer reporting intern at the Billings Gazette before returning to UM in the fall to finish the few credits I had left to complete my communication studies degree. Then, I got an e-mail from the Beacon. A phone call and interview followed. And soon, instead of going back to college, I was taking a full-time job. Remaining communication studies credits would have to be taken online.
So, for the past five months I’ve played the roles of student and professional; though, because of the split personality, probably doing neither as well as I could. When I finished my last online final last night, there was a twinge of sadness at seeing college days pass, but mostly a sense of overwhelming relief. After all, I don’t have to worry about crashing in my parents’ basement while searching for my first job. And, without homework deadlines looming, I’m eager for the opportunity to have my head fully in this job, out of a classroom, and firmly placed in the Flathead Valley.
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