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Commencement experiences for a Florida State University graduate

Editor's note: Kathleen is a marketing assistant for GradImages, and graduated from Florida State University on May 3, 2014 with a degree in Sports Management.  This is part two of a short series that follows her from the days leading up to graduation into her post-college life.

Kathleen at commencementOn graduation day, I was trying not to let nerves get the best of me.  My day began with a three mile treadmill run at the gym, in hopes of distracting myself about what was to come a few hours later. To my surprise, however, instead of running off my nerves, I found myself running down memory lane. Memories of the last four years were numerous. From happiness to sadness, and from anger to pride, a wide range of emotions began to overwhelm me. There were low points in college I wanted to forget, and days where I was on top of the world. By the end of my therapeutic run, I had realized college was indeed the best of times and the worst of times for me. Leaving the gym, I went home and got ready for one of the biggest days of my life.

Getting Ready

After getting dressed, my family and I ate a light lunch together, although my meal was less about hunger and more helping to prevent fainting during the ceremony! After a few family pictures, we were off.

The traffic we encountered on the way to commencement made my nerves resurface, and it hit me that this was graduation day. So here it was: the moment of truth. Would I be able to walk in these heels?! Slowly but surely, and with the help of holding onto my father’s arm, I made it to the Civic Center in one piece.

At the Ceremony

At Florida State’s commencement, graduates are given a card which the readers used when individually recognizing each graduate on stage. I went inside to pick up my card and before I knew it, I was sitting in my seat. I remember thinking to myself, “Am I really here? Am I really graduating? My feet hurt, am I going to make it across that stage without falling?!”

Then professors and administrators made their way in. I couldn’t help but to get emotional when I heard the processional start. This was the day I’d been waiting for since freshman year; the day I thought would never come. I was really graduating.

I look around at all the faces around me. There are some I recognize from my classes and others I’d never seen. I was mostly surrounded by strangers, but we all had a few things in common: We were all excited for college to be over, scared for the real world, and nervous about the next chapter and life. (For the girls in heels, we were also worried about falling off the stage!)

I eventually started to feel at ease though, knowing I wasn’t the only one who was anxious about what was to come. Everyone was going through this together. I sat back in my seat and soaked it all in: the speeches, the cameras flashing, and our last moments as undergrads.

Looking Back

And just like that, with a switching of the tassel and a handshake, I became a Florida State University alumnus. Graduation was a success, and I even made it across the stage without falling! After the ceremony, my family and I went to dinner where we shared some laughs, food and memories. For a moment, I looked out the restaurant window to see the sun setting behind the Westcott Building, and it reminded me that my time at Florida State had finally set.

Sunsets bring new days, however, and I cannot wait to see what life has to offer me.

Topics: Personal Stories