By: Cathy Gallagher
Just a few days before, as I wrapped up my finals and traveled to SF for a 36 hour business trip ahead of our Friday night School of Business Commencement Reception, those bittersweet thoughts crept up on me as they do each year. Thoughts of the students I had grown so fond of, feeling the pride in all that they have accomplished… sadness of knowing that they are moving on to a new and exciting chapter of their life and the world that awaits them… thankful for whatever small role I may have had in their time at PLNU.
Then before I knew it, it was here… In keeping with past years, I arrived early that morning as the haze gave way to the bright morning sun to celebrate and support our graduating MBAs, 60 or so this year, many of whom I had gotten to know quite well. This year even more important as one of our staff, Dieter Mauerman, was among the MBAs. As I looked around me, I was a little surprised… and a bit sad that I didn’t know all of the faces… but those I did know had become near and dear to my heart. It was wonderful to be there to share in their excitement and to offer congratulations to a job well done!
I returned, as I always do, later that afternoon for the undergraduate ceremony… but this year was different as I wandered through the smiling faces looking for my own place in line, I was so happy to find it was next to James Garcia, one of our most valued student employees and only senior who we were losing this year. As I stood waiting, the laughter, smiles, and energy was contagious… it surrounded me in a new way this year… We stood together and waited patiently until they ushered us to the Greek and the ceremony began.
As I sat robed in my black cap and gown with several hundred undergraduate students half my age (…or less!!) listening to the opening address, I heard, “welcome to the graduating class of 2013…”, and though I hadn’t given it a thought before, it suddenly dawned on me… after 8 ½ years as an undergraduate student I was preparing to walk across the stage of the Greek to accept my diploma 30 years after graduating from high school! It was done!
Students, who may be reading this, be encouraged that your day will come and know it is MUCH easier (and highly recommended by me!) at 20 than at 47 when a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, a job, and life are all vying for your time and energy…
There were many times throughout my nearly 9 years as a student that I was ready to throw in the towel, when I couldn’t see the light… not even a glimmer… at the end of the tunnel. Perseverance, hard work, and frustration, and the love, encouragement, and understanding from family, the institute staff, friends, and colleagues, as well as the encouragement, support, and occasional swift kick (10 ½ EE…) of my dear friend and advisor… yes, you guessed it, Randy, helped tremendously along the way. I honestly couldn’t have done it without you.
Thank you to everyone who was a part of this very long chapter of my life’s book… I appreciate and love you all.
Image Credit: 2013 PLNU Commencement by Marcus Emerson