This week’s feat was a big one for me. Having completed the academic requirements for my Master of Education degree in December of last year, the day had finally arrived for me to celebrate this milestone by donning a gown and hood, and crossing the stage to receive my diploma.
As exciting was the fact that my younger son would be cheering me on from the audience, and my older son there in spirit (crowds are not his thing), but, thankfully, also at home again after a short hospital stay.
We arrived at Brock just after 1 p.m. and I made my way to the area marked “Graduates” with a big smile; I collected my gown and with a sigh of relief found my name on a convocation card on the gym wall that confirmed I really was going to cross that stage.
I wasn’t sure if I would know anyone else, having completed my last course in the Fall of 2015, but was happily surprised to see a number of familiar faces. We had ample time to catch up as we waited for the 2:30 procession. I celebrated with my classmates as they described their achievements in work and life since finishing their degrees. Each time someone asked me about my plans, I flushed with the excitement of describing my new position at Niagara Region Mental Health and how privileged I feel to have been given the role of Recovery Support Worker there.
Soon, we were lined up in alphabetical order and began the procession. As I walked down the hallway, my friend Karen popped out with her phone and took my picture while wishing me a heartfelt congratulations. I felt myself getting just a little misty-eyed. As we walked to our seats, I spotted my son in the crowd (wearing a bright green shirt turned out to have been a good idea) and gave a wave; more waterworks threatened.
We awaited the procession of the platform party and, since the M.Ed.’s were the first degrees to be conferred, we were soon on our feet and making our way to the side of the stage. I passed my son along the way and was rewarded with a high five that again brought a few joyful tears. We snaked up the ramp to the podium and as I walked onto the stage, I was overwhelmed by the friendly faces of former Brock colleagues. One gave me the hooding instructions (don’t shake hands with the Bedels – it slows things down too much); another read my name aloud; others shook my hand and congratulated me as I made my way across the stage. I may have held up those behind me for just a bit, but having worked for many years with some of these individuals, I was delighted as each person jumped up with outstretched hands.
The best was saved to the last as my beautiful friend, The Registrar, enveloped me in a hug as I received my diploma – cue the water works! I floated back to my seat and, upon opening the diploma folder to just make sure it really was true, I found not only the M.Ed. document, but a card from my friend tucked in the corner; as others around me took a second look in their folders, I confess to feeling pretty special.
The rest of the ceremony was uneventful for me. As we made our way outside, I looked for my former colleague and always dear friend, Margo, whose convocation I had proudly attended last year. I had to leave before we found each other because I had promised Christian that his brother and I would pick him up for a celebratory dinner and he was awaiting our arrival (virtual hugs to Margo for always being in my corner).
The dinner topped off an exceptional day. As I watched my boys kibitz over their meals, I quietly reflected on the many, many blessings in my life. Sending out love and immense gratitude to all my supporters, especially over the last two years – I couldn’t have done any of it without you!
Next up: The Canadian Positive Psychology Conference comes to Niagara