This weekend I attended the graduation ceremony at National Louis University in downtown Chicago. My uncle was graduating with his Ph.D. so needless to say it was an exciting time! We were all so proud of him. This is something that he had wanted for his entire adult life. To finally reach that point must have been so exhilarating.
For me though I never felt a huge accomplishment when I graduated high school or college. I don't even think that I'll feel like I've made big strides when I finish my Master's degree next Spring. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I never truly understood why graduation was such a big deal. You see everyone in my family has a higher education degree. I grew up not knowing anything different.
But at this graduation ceremony, the president of the university asked all first generation college students to stand up. She also included graduates who had reached the highest degree in their family.
At least 75% of the graduates stood up and the crowd went wild.
I felt a sense of pride from the families that was so touching. My eyes even welled up with tears a little bit. It was quite exciting to hear the crowds cheering, yelling, clapping, hooting, and hollering.
I don't know if I'll ever feel that way about graduating myself but I should. I should recognize the amazing feat it is to continue one's education. I should appreciate the hard work that myself, my family, and my friends have put in in order to get to where they are in life. I still don't think college is for everyone and that we, as teachers, shouldn't push everyone into thinking that college is the only option. There plenty of successful individuals who don't have college degrees. Some are in the trades, running their own businesses, and much more. And that's amazing!
But with that thought aside, I now realize what it means to attend and complete college.
Congratulations, Graduates! You did it!