Graduation looms ahead. This week, there are finals to take, papers to submit, oh, and I still have to buy that cap and gown. Finally, after 3 1/2 years, my academic career is coming to fruition in the form of what promises to be a fairly lengthy celebration of all that my fellow graduates and I have worked so very hard toward.
The Finish Line? I hardly think of it like that. Yes, I have worked hard to complete all the required classes for my degree, and readily admit that there were times I asked myself "why am I doing this?" Achieving a degree is, and always has been, important to me. There is a reason they call it "higher learning." But what else is out there? How much more is there to learn? (Answer: everything.)
I wouldn't trade my academic experiences for the world, as I have learned so much. Even though I do plan to take a little time off after graduation, I know that there's this big, empty hole in my schedule that used to be reserved for classes and homework. Oh, and time off? Well, it's time to get the yard ready for the coming summer, and maybe (just maybe) I can get the dining room table cleared of endless piles of papers, maybe actually file the important ones, and for once, I might be able to welcome drop-in company, knowing that the house is actually at least half-way clean.
I've had some ask me if there's going to be a graduation party. It feels just a little bit weird, since I'm the party planner in the family, to schedule and execute a party to help my family and friends celebrate this milestone which is admittedly me-centric. With an Associate in Applied Science degree, (major, Culinary Arts), I hardly think I could get away with sloppy joes, potato salad, and baked beans. Find a venue for the party, plan some spectacular party-food, and maybe even make those tuxedo strawberries I've been practicing. But still, a graduation party? That I plan and execute? That is a celebration of my accomplishment? OK, it might happen, but right now, the jury's still out. Why is it that even though I'm graduating, the only thing I can seem to think of is "what classes do I still need?" "What further training can I undertake that will enable me to be a better person?" It's a dichotomy of "hurray, I made it! I graduated!" and "what more can I/should I do?"
My classmates are suffering from the same dilemmas. They have spent so much time focusing on getting the schoolwork done, working the job(s), and maintaining some degree of sanity. Now, all of a sudden, the school-part is gone. Some of them are destined to secure a job on a cruise ship, where they can practice their Garde Manger skills to the hilt.
Please let all of them (and me, too) put learned skills to work, accept challenges as they come, and above all, keep learning. The future might be a little scary, but it can also be a very bright place for newly minted graduates to whip into action.