on heavy-hearted processions and the becoming of an alumna

Yesterday, I graduate from college. It came quickly, after some short words of praise from the Columbia College dean Michelle Moody-Adams and the waving of some sort of scroll-like diploma from President Lee C. Bollinger. I worry that I didn’t really appreciate how four years of education concluded in that 2-hour ceremony. Instead, the week was pre-occupied with never-ending amounts of packing, co-ordinating, and family-induced stress.

As much as I tried to emphasize spending time with classmates, I don’t think any of us really came to terms with leaving behind the world that we lived in for the past four years. New media will allow a lot of us to stay in touch, regardless of where we go, but the joyful spontaneity of our friendships will be somewhat lost in the distances between us and the responsibilities of being an adult. I’m reminded of the words of a friend, a Yale alumni who reflected on her years as an undergrad and said “These are my people." 

I’m not quite sure how this all sinks in, yet. For now, it still feels too much like the annual process of leaving campus for the summer, without the heavy realizations that I will not be returning to the campus cocoon come this September. I can only hope that the so-called real world can offer all that Columbia did: intellectual curiosity, interesting people, and a place I can call home. 

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