I seriously had one of the best weekends ever this past weekend. I look back and a big smile spreads across my face and my eyes fill with tears. I graduated this weekend.
Initially, I was being a little grumpy about the whole graduation thing. I just wanted to be done and move on with my life. So many exciting things are happening for me right now, and I didn't want to be bothered with all the graduation hoopla. I kind of got roped into all that, but as I was reminded, "sometimes graduation isn't so much about you as about allowing your family and friends the chance to celebrate your achievements." My particular graduation consisted of 2 main events: the hooding, and walking down the hill. The first is on a Saturday night, the second on Sunday morning/afternoon - so it pretty much takes and entire weekend. I did not want to go and felt that I was essentially being forced to go against my will so that my family could be a part of this event. Even in the beginning, I knew I would be glad that I took part, but that only made it a little easier.
I can't even express how glad I am that I went. First let me talk about the hooding. This is something that happens when you get your doctorate; they adorn your plain black gown with a fancy drape. Otherwise it's pretty much on par with most other graduation ceremonies: speakers speak, they call your name, you walk across the stage, and leave with a diploma. Internally though, this felt so much different than any other commencement I have been a part of. I think that it's because we as a class have been through so many difficult times together that it really does feel like the end of an era. We walked in as normal people and left as doctors. Our class speakers were SO wonderful. There could not have been 2 people more fit to speak to our class. Reminiscing about the past 4 years and offering encouragement for the next step in our lives left me with a great sense of pride, camaraderie, accomplishment, and hope. Having to separate from such a great group of people is very bittersweet.
Then on Sunday, was the university commencement. This was just a fun informal thing all the graduates of the university opt to be a part of. At this particular ceremony it has been tradition for years for the school of medicine graduates to sneak champagne into the ceremony (which takes place in the football stadium) and open it spraying it everywhere when the dean presents the candidates for degree. Although efforts were made to stop this tradition and threats to future medical licensure were made, it survived. Some of us have been looking forward to this day since seeing it done by other classes of medical students when we were just undergrads. What's a few broken rules in the name of tradition and clean (sticky) fun? After we were announced the entire section erupted with sound and suds. Though I was covered in champagne and reeked of yeast, I never felt higher than I did leaving that stadium.
Lastly and most importantly, my family and friends really topped off the weekend. Even though I'm getting married in less than 3 weeks, my family and friends still made the effort and took time out for travel and ceremony just to make it special and memorable for me. I didn't even ask them to; they just did it. What did I do to deserve this wonderful life I've been given? As I drove home from my exciting weekend, I was so full of gratitude that I just cried. I'm so lucky. I hope that I never forget the events of this past weekend, and especially all the people that helped make it possible. It truly was the experience of a lifetime.