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Graduation Day

By December 19, 2011December 21st, 2011Education, Goals, School


If you feel that you have both feet planted on level ground, then the university has failed you. ~Robert Goheen, Time, 23 June 1961

I’m normally not one to start my posts with cheesy quotes, but I haven’t been able to forget this one I saw a few years back when I was preparing to apply to my program. It speaks so honestly of my experiences in achieving my Master’s.


Graduation day was a complete trip. There aren’t words! Of all the things on my mental “30 before 30,” achieving my master’s has always been at the top. The ceremony kind of felt like the intersection of all the work, sacrifices and time with the reward and formality of the ceremony in front of friends, family and other academics. It was difficult not to be overwhelmed by it all.


The first part of the ceremony consisted of the hooding ceremony for the doctoral candidates. This was really inspiring to see. Each candidate was accompanied by their advisor, who placed their hood and accompanied them to the stage to accept their doctoral diploma. I won’t lie, watching their ceremony made me really want one — after a few years off of course.


Finally it was our turn to go. We lined up, and started proceeding to the stage. Right as I was getting in line, my baby brother called wondering why the party wasn’t at my house (he got the times mixed up).


Off the phone and waiting nervously.


Ready to walk across the stage. In retrospect I think I was a little underdressed, but I was super comfortable in my Vibrams.


The moment, the BIG moment! I was so nervous to shake his hand, and the lights were blinding. He asked me what my plans were, and all I could drivel out was “innnnsttruccctional designnn sir.” The man with the red sash looking on is my old boss.

My precious...

I had to snap a shot for my parents in Texas right when I sat down. It’s just the folder for now, they send the diploma itself in a few weeks.


Goofy smile.


We tried to get a few pictures, but it was so crowded and crazy that we didn’t get all that many before leaving to go back to the house. My hair was flat and my make-up had run, so I think we’ll have to snap a few more this week when my family is here.

Despite being finished, I feel like my feet are still not firmly planted on anything resembling level ground. The world feels bigger, and the more I learn, the less I realize I really know. I still have so much to learn, see and experience and this just feels like the end of another beginning. Is that crazy?


  • Leah says:

    The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. Totally not crazy at all. And you’ll continue learning in the real world too. I actually found that the two years or so post-MS is when I learned the most about science.

  • Katie Lillard says:

    Congrats Jessica! So excited for you! The actual diploma takes about 5-8 weeks but its worth it when it comes! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Congratulations!!! Wow, what an achievement. Such great photos as well! Mine were a blurry mess from my hooding. Hehehee.

    Happy holidays!