This is the big moment I say goodbye to my collegiate experience. I’ve always pictured myself walking across the big stage, head held high and freaking out about which hand I take the diploma with. This special day I have spent so long imagining felt too unreal, and every time it came across my thoughts I had trouble putting myself on that stage in my dreams because it just seemed so far away. I felt as though this day would take forever to come, but now that it’s here, I feel as if my college career is coming too quickly to an end. My entire experience felt as if I were hiking up a mountain to reach the top and finally graduating. I never thought about what happened after I reached the top.
I remember so distinctly when I first walked on campus. My family and I toured the university and I immediately fell in love with the magic of the mountains. As my feet glided across campus, I had no idea what my college experience was going to be like. I only had small glimpses of what it may be like from older friends and siblings who gave me snippets of their stories. I knew after my tour that I was meant to go to Appalachian State, especially after touring their College of Education building and listening to the students who shared the same love I had just gained. Then it was my turn to walk across campus to find the first classes for my Freshman year. I panicked as I frantically tried to memorize the buildings and keep up with the new workload. I found myself trying out things I had kept myself from experiencing before, such as dancing on the hip hop team and joining a sorority that changed my life. I said hello to lifelong friends who will be in my future wedding party and said goodbye to friends I had walked into college with. Before I knew it, I finished my Freshman year and quickly strolled into my Sophomore year.
“… I turned into someone who fought against failure. I tried even when I thought I would fail, and continued even when I did.”
My Sophomore and Junior years turned into a slow hike uphill as I worked hard to complete my classes and take on new responsibilities. Although they were slow, they were my most formative years turning me into the woman I am today. My mental health took some dives but I luckily had the strongest foundation I could ask for found in my sisters and my family. I almost didn’t get a passing grade in Biology II but pushed through. A freak snowstorm also helped me there when it came to getting an A on my final, so I would like to also give a big shout out to the Boone weather always coming through. As someone who used to stick her head in the sand when things got hard, I turned into someone who fought against failure. I tried even when I thought I would fail, and continued even when I did fail.
After my hike, it was now time for me to walk into my Senior year. I was ready to put in the work and enjoy my time to the fullest extent. Even with COVID throwing a wrench into my plans, I was determined to make this final year memorable. And it was. I got the best roommate a Senior could ask for, especially having to go back to dorm life after gaining my freedom in an apartment Junior year. I turned 21 and celebrated in the most memorable and COVID safe way, made some amazing friends through my Block II experience, and finally figured out how to effectively study for me. Isn’t it funny how things tend to click when you least need it? Better late than never I suppose. Although I planned on enjoying my senior year, it seemed like less of a walk and more of a sprint. I quickly finished my fall semester and was thrown into my student teaching in the spring. Student teaching was hands down one of the best experiences in my entire life. Although many tears were shed completing edTPA and I was ready for all the work to be over, I also wasn’t ready for my last day at all. Then, the day finally came. My entire college experience ended on a Tuesday afternoon as I left my clinical classroom for the last time and said goodbye to students who quickly became kiddos I saw as my own. Before I knew it, my final experience in college would be walking across a stage I thought would never happen.
There are so many things a Senior can say. So much of it includes thanking those around you and paying respect to the school you’re leaving behind. As I sit here now reflecting on my experience, I want to make sure I include one thing that I think every student graduating should say to themselves:
“I am so proud of myself. I am not scared of my future.”
I am proud of the woman I have turned into and although adulthood is absolutely terrifying, I know that I have spent my experience in college preparing myself for this part of my life. Suddenly, my walk through college has turned into a 100-meter race and I want to be sure to really take my time to enjoy my final stroll in this experience. Even when I’m taking my short walk across the stage, I want to make sure the moment lasts as long as I can possibly make it. After I walk, I have no idea where my feet will go next. I could end up anywhere and am capable of doing anything. All I know is that I’ve already climbed a mountain, so I am more than ready to climb down and find another.