From TWC to Graduation

From TWC to Graduation

As always, I walk out of my bathroom, look at the clock and mini-scream. It’s 2:50 p.m. and we need to be at the University of North Florida Arena at 3 p.m. In a panic, I whip myself together while also yelling at my brother, “Put your clothes on! Put your clothes on! We are so late! Come on, we have to go NOW!” Of course, my brother chooses today, of all days, to drive a new route to the school, and I am having a heart attack in the passenger seat.

 

We finally arrive and park. I search for my friend, who was patiently waiting for my fashionably late arrival. Well, it’s Florida in the spring, so its 90 in the sun with 70 percent humidity - I am wearing a dark blue dress and a graduation gown over top. Needless to say, I left my friend to catch up, and I bolt for the air conditioning.

 

To add to my already chaotic trip to the school, next comes the dilemma of graduating with two degrees.

 

“Well, Nicole, your card reads Political Science”

“Well, I would really appreciate it if I could walk with Criminal Justice”

“…OK, I guess it doesn’t really matter.”

 

The stress of my tardiness subsides, and I start encountering all of my classmates I left behind when I embarked on my trip to Washington, D.C. We all say congratulations, good to see you, how did your internship go? We compare regalia and compliment each other on all of our accomplishments. Red white and blue cords for Veterans, gold double cords for Latin Honors, mixed colors for clubs and honors societies.

 

Finally, it's time. We march in, all searching for our families; of course, I fail to find mine because I left my glasses at home in my rush to be on time. My classmates and I sit, then begin to swap stories and jokes while partially listening to the speakers. Recognition time: those with a Leadership minor, please stand. My oldest friend, Nate, to my left, stands. Those graduating with Latin Honors (summa, magna and cum laude) please stand. I stand. Will all those prior service members stand and be recognized. My good friend, Oscar, stands. Humbly, we all pat each other on the back.

 

It's now our turn to walk across the stage. I am high-fiving my classmates who suffered through grueling classes with me. It's my turn. My cap is definitely going to fall off. I am definitely going to trip. The announcer reads my name, I shake hands, take my diploma and keep walking. I see my internship coordinator stand up and greet me with arms wide open. I hug the rest of my professors and thank them for everything. I wave up to my family, that I located after facetiming my dad, with my diploma in hand.

 

I did it. I did it! All those nights where I hated my professors for giving us 12-page open ended finals or a paper, THEN a final or a 45-page portfolio. Now, it is all worth it.

 

Thanks to my time at the Washington Center, I know myself. I know law is my passion, I know I am capable of holding a full time job, and I know I can conquer a new city. I will never doubt myself again, (see my Experience Transforms post about my doubts), and I will hold myself to the highest standard in everything that I do.

 

I turn and look at Nate.

 

“We did it, man!”

He goes, "yes we did! But you and I both know that this is only the first step.”

 

How right he is. This graduation is only the cornerstone to Nate’s future PhD and my future Juris Doctorate. So, we will savor this brief moment of success, knowing that we are just getting started.

 

UNF Graduation

My Fellow Washington Center Colleague and Me at Graduation

 

Read Nicole's previous blog posts here

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