Twenty years ago, I was experiencing my first semester as a grad student at Miami University. From the very beginning of my program — maybe even when I first decided to attend grad school — I pictured myself walking across the stage to get my diploma. Eyes always on the prize.
It wasn’t meant to be. Then, anyway.
I finally completed my master’s at the end of last year. But thanks to the pandemic, walking across the stage to get my diploma wasn’t meant to be. I had to be content with having the diploma mailed to me and playing dress-up around the house in my regalia. Instead, a brief, virtual graduation ceremony streamed on the university’s website. And prior to that, I had my graduation “party” on Google Meet with friends and family.
Tomorrow, my 20-year vision finally becomes reality. I’ll be walking across the stage, albeit not in the way I imagined. There is still a pandemic. We are required to wear masks, except for when we walk across the stage. I already have my diploma, so I won’t be handed one. I won’t even be hooded. I already have my hood, and I’ll be wearing it during the ceremony. (Correctly, I hope. I still have no idea how to wear it properly.)
I have to admit, it feels weird. Completing my degree is now old news. This is delayed gratification. But I earned this, and I deserve it.
Tomorrow morning, my mom, husband, and I will have brunch at Hofbräuhaus Columbus. Then we’ll go to the Columbus Convention Center for the ceremony. I will, at some point, walk across the stage, pose for a photograph with the university president (not shaking hands), and then return to my seat.
It’s something. And something is better than nothing.