With my family on a plane back to Maryland and my cap and gown put to rest (I think I’ve taken enough photos in it), commencement weekend is…over.
Interesting to note that I don’t feel that the simple past tense fits what happened these three days. It does not feel right to say, “I graduated,” which implies a one-time event. Rather, with two ceremonies, multiple family meals, and one huge graduation dinner, graduation has consisted of jam-packed, tiring days—not just for me, but also for my family and family friends.
Remember the speech I had drafted? Yeah, too busy to actually rehearse or write on notecards, so I ended up just winging it, with me unexpectedly crying my eyes out by the time I thanked my parents, effectively cutting it short.
Anyway, now that I understand what it really means to “attend graduation,” I appreciate my family and friends so much more. Seriously. Graduation is a three-day commitment and sacrifice. My family friend put it best: You don’t realize how much of a time commitment this really is. Literally the entire weekend surrounds commencement. Commencement. I never really gave it much thought, but the word itself also means the beginning or the start. This isn’t the end. [Wow, where was this thought in the graduation speeches.]
Sure, graduating means leaving the past behind. So here, I’ll edit the speech I wrote for a post-grad thank you reflection.
When I was accepted to BU, I remember telling people that I would not choose BU because of its “party school” reputation. But of all the campuses I visited, from New York University to University of Maryland, BU was the only one where I saw myself going. Sure, maybe BU students liked to party, but that didn’t mean I had to. (You know, for normal people, parties are fun.)
My first year at BU, the one party I went to was some random, classy house party where my other freshman friend and I stayed for no longer than 10 minutes. That and a bunch of a cappella concerts and open mic nights made up the essence of my underclassman nightlife. I realized then what people meant by college is what you make it. Really, a lot of things in life are what you make it. But I made these four years into an experience of which my parents, friends, and I can be proud.
Some of the experiences from these four years that I will never forget:
- Moving in a week early to volunteer at farms harvesting tomatoes and tossing squash (totally expected to work with kids, by the way), but also meeting someone who ended up being my closest friend at BU
- Getting two internships the summer after my freshman year, working for USA TODAY College and a tech publication that helped make me realize I want to cover tech
- Getting published in The Boston Globe, thanks to my online journalism professor
- Landing a summer internship with AOL Patch in partnership with Dow Jones News Fund, only to get fired a week before our internships ended
- Studying and interning abroad, literally having the absolute best time of my life
- Spending my last summer in college traveling with my family
- Being one of eight students chosen this January to go cover the biggest technology showcase in Las Vegas, working alongside reporters at the New York Times, TechCrunch, Mashable, and many others
And so, so many more.
So even though I’m closing one chapter of my life, this was—hands down—the BEST chapter ever. I’m so excited to open the next, even though, no, I still do not know where I’m working so please don’t ask me.
All I know is that I’m going to travel to Europe and Morocco with the friend I met on day one at BU, then going back home to Maryland and figuring my life out from there.
So thank you, Mei family, for being there since day one, not only helping me move in and picking me up and dropping me off at the airport for every break, but also making me feel like part of the family. You let me stay over one summer while I interned in Boston, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I love coming to your house for dinner, and when it’s not at your house, it’s at Wing’s Kitchen and NDK for those delicious red bean smoothies. Speaking of food, when will we go to Richardson’s? I’m going to miss all of that so much.
Thank you, Michael, for being the weekend’s resident photographer and never complaining once about any number of things you totally could have complained about. You rock.
Thanks to everyone who showed up at my graduation dinner and celebrated with me. You got to see me cry, laugh, and enjoy great company. What a night.
Thanks to my mom’s uncle, who came so briefly to have dinner and see my graduation under the sweltering sun today, only to need to rush to catch your bus back home. I love your Swarovski crystal gift. It’s beautiful.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for always supporting me and giving me the freedom to pursue everything I wanted to do. I feel so lucky and grateful for all the opportunities I have had.
Thank you, Dad, for booking flights for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to be able to go back to work in between my celebrations but realized in the end how rough that was and decided to stay in Boston.
Thank you, Eva, for coming to Boston literally as soon as you finished your final exam and dealing with my bad temper and need to take so many photos with you. Really, thanks to all of you for dealing with my occasional shitty mood swings. I’m working on it.
It’s because I have you, Mom, Dad, Eva, as examples of people who work so hard to support our family, that makes me respect and appreciate you so much.