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Reflections of a College Graduate … 14 Years Later

May 20, 2011

I remember the day as if it were yesterday; when in fact, it was 14 years ago this weekend.

It was a sunny, May day when I walked across the stage of the San Diego State University Open Air Theatre to receive my college diploma. The day was surreal. I was proud, excited, and overwhelmed, all at the same time. The only thing I remember from the four-hour commencement ceremony is hearing my name called (which the announcer mispronounced), walking across stage, and hugging my roommate after we both received our diplomas.

Afterwards, I took photos with my family – my dad, mom, three sisters, and my grandfather (who is no longer here today). Sadly, my grandmother passed away seven months prior. She would have enjoyed that sunny day. I remember the letter my sister, Sari – who was 14-years-old at the time – wrote me. I still have that letter and it still brings tears to my eyes as I read it.

College was a magical time for me. And while I felt that a huge part of my life was over, and new part was commencing. I started my first full-time professional job that following Tuesday and I haven’t looked back since.

Now – 14 years later – it is commencement weekend here on the San Diego State University campus. I love this time of the year. I love seeing the happy graduates walking around campus in their caps and gowns, brimming from ear to ear. I love seeing the proud parents beside their graduates with flowers and balloons in hand. I love hearing Pomp and Circumstance and knowing the students receiving their diploma are hearing it for the first time in their lives. I love remembering the feelings of excitement and opportunity, as if my whole life was a blank canvas in front of me.

Commencement Day 1997 (me with my dad and sisters)
A page from my commencement scrapbook

26 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2011 10:11 pm

    Wow. Very nice. It’s interesting to realize that I started at SDSU (along with Ellye), that year. And to think, 14 years later, I never expected I’d be walking the floor of Viejas Arena to get my masters. Congratulations to you Leah, even if I wasn’t there…and thank you to your family for helping me get here…

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:38 pm

      So true, Polo. You and Ellye started that year I finished. Time goes by so fast, doesn’t it?! Congratulations to you. You deserve it with all your hard work and dedication. I’m proud of you!

  2. May 20, 2011 10:18 pm

    I can’t believe how young you look. It’s funny how we don’t realize how much we’ve aged until we look back at photos taking so long ago. What great memories!

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:35 pm

      So true! Just think though, I knew you then!

  3. May 21, 2011 5:02 am

    Wonderful pictures and wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing. This post brings back memories of my own, and reminds me of memories about to be made: my son graduates from high school next weekend. Life is a cycle. 🙂

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:35 pm

      Congrats to your son (and you)! It’s crazy how time flies. Glad you liked the photos and reflection.

  4. May 21, 2011 6:19 am

    Great photos, Leah!
    I just watched my daughter graduate from her two year college. Now it’s on to ASU. So proud of her.
    Someday you’ll be watching Sophie take the walk 🙂

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:34 pm

      I know! It will be here before I know it! Congrats to your daughter. ASU is a great school. I’m sure you’ll be right there again in two years.

  5. May 21, 2011 6:44 am

    I skipped my own commencement because I had the opportunity to perform with my college ensemble at a dance festival. I was happy to choose the festival, but the other dancers didn’t want me to miss out. They surprised me by bringing a cap and a tape of Pomp and Circumstance, so I got to “walk” after all. It was only in the hallway of the hotel and it was more silly than serious, but it was memorable.

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:34 pm

      That is the best story, Shary! Thanks for sharing. You should write that on your blog.

  6. May 21, 2011 6:50 am

    Its amazing how fast time flies! You blink after a momentous occasion….and here you are….14 years later! You captured the moment nicely. Lovely post and pics!

  7. May 21, 2011 8:07 am

    Fun pictures! I always get reflective about college graduation as well around this time, but I think only because I work on a college campus. If I didn’t, I’m not sure I would remember that “blank canvas” excitement as much — and that’s just one of the reasons I love being on a campus. The students are on the brink of everything, whether they realize it or not!

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:32 pm

      Isn’t that so true?! I think that’s one of the reasons I love being on campus. It’s just so exciting to see their excitement and anticipation, and knowing they’re feeling what we did so many years ago.

  8. May 21, 2011 9:06 am

    Wow, that really brought back memories for me, too, as I also graduated from SDSU. But now, it’s been years since my own kids graduated from college, so does that mean I am getting old?! Thanks for taking us on your reflective journey Leah.

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:32 pm

      I didn’t know that about you, Susan. It must be strange for my parents thinking all their daughters have graduated college and are done with that part of life. Before I know it, it will be Sophie’s turn!

  9. May 21, 2011 9:27 am

    Funny how we all remember college graduation like it was yesterday!! Mine was 18 years ago which I can hardly believe. It was such a great time in life and felt like such a huge accomplishment. Visiting via SITS!! Nice to find your blog:-)

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:31 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! I’ve been to yours a few times from your feature on SITS. Doesn’t time go so fast?!

  10. May 21, 2011 12:26 pm

    Leah, you all looked so happy! Great post and very close to my home since my son will be graduating from college this year. I can’t believe that it’s his turn now. All my college friends are still back in the old country and I don’t get to see them at all. Just through skype once in a while we get to talk. Do you still see your college friends?

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:30 pm

      Wow, congrats to your son. That’s quite an accomplishment. You must be so proud. You know, I do keep in touch with a few of my close college friends. Others have gone on and so have I. And through the magic of Facebook, I was able to reconnect with many of them. Gotta love social media!

  11. May 21, 2011 8:37 pm

    As a recent college graduate (one week ago already!), I really, really enjoyed reading your post! Thanks for this nice reflection on such an important milestone in life. 🙂

    • Leah permalink*
      May 22, 2011 10:27 pm

      And congrats to you! As you can tell, I remember that day with such fondness. I hope you will too!

  12. May 22, 2011 11:39 pm

    This is so sweet! Thank you for sharing! It is such a special season. Our daughter graduates from high school in two weeks. We have family coming in town to celebrate. Your post and these pictures remind me how few events we have to get to come together!

  13. May 24, 2011 3:23 am

    Ah graduation….such a memorable time!

  14. May 26, 2011 10:17 am

    I also graduated 14 years ago but I can’t remember the ceremony so clearly. Though I still remember the school-leaving ball. 😉

  15. June 2, 2011 1:56 pm

    fantástico! parabéns pela sua graduação por este bom tempo a sua grande capacidade
    de lembrar nos dias de hoje, e seus bons ensinamentos ainda se recorda completamente .

    obrigado por seus ensinamentos,
    lindo post.

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