The road to graduation is a bittersweet journey. Although the fun and special graduation events last only a few weeks,the road is filled with twists and turns from the first day we receive our acceptance letters from PLNU to the day we walk across the Greek. College is “our ticket to the future” they say, but it is so much more than that. College is learning to make friends when you have no idea who you are or what you’re doing – and you don’t know what they’re doing either (that can be even scarier) – but you trust them anyway, and they become your family. College is learning when to say yes and when to say no – when you have three options (social life, grades, and sleep), but you can only say yes to two. College is learning who you want to be and making that who you are.
In the course of a few weeks, our college years were celebrated with lots of food and gifts – from brunches, dinners, and desserts, to door prizes and coffee mugs. PLNU knows how to send out its grads!
The festivities began before finals week with the Senior Dessert, where the Alumni Association, headed by Sheryl Smee, lavished the graduating seniors with a wonderfully delicious dessert bar. They handed out door and trivia game prizes for lucky winners. I won the Campus Mall Brick, and now I’m going to be able to put my name and my sister’s name (Taryn Green, 08) on it. That night, we were able to savor the sweet memories we’ve made with our classmates and friends.
Many departments hold a special gathering to honor their seniors. In my case, the Department of Literature, Journalism and Modern Languages honored us with a brunch the Saturday before finals. The professors chose a graduating senior (fought over us is what I like to think) to whom they wanted to give a book – a book that represented their relationship with that student or that student’s interests. It wasn’t the book that meant so much to us; it was the fact that they knew us well enough to individualize a gift like no one else could. The professors at PLNU really do care about building relationships with their students.
April 30 – May 4
Then there is finals week. Papers and parties you are torn between (or just papers you can’t wait to tear up), people to see, and things to do (like climbing to the top of Brown Chapel one last time) before you can no longer say, “I did that in college.” Because now we have to be mature adults who know what we’re doing with our lives.
Amidst the chaos of finals is the Senior Celebration – yet another time the Alumni Association provides a beautiful backdrop and good food for us seniors to get together and celebrate. This year our chaplain, Mark Carter, was honored. He journeyed with us for four years: he came to PLNU with us and left with us. After dinner, the photo booth was set up for silly picture taking with friends.
And that brings us to Commencement! The final stage of graduation, where the spotlight is on us one last time, and we walk across that stage with cheers all around from proud families and excited friends. We walk down the stairs, searching for family and friends sitting on those Greek Amphitheatre steps, slide into our row, and sit for the ceremonies. The excitement flows out of me like sweat from my brow (or is that real sweat?), since today is the day I will receive my ticket to the future – the slip of paper that tells my future employers, “She knows what she’s doing.” But the reality is, that paper can’t even begin to describe all I have learned after four years at PLNU.
The party doesn’t stop here though – off to graduation dinner with my family. We head to Buca di Beppo for a good family meal (more food!) and dessert. And then off to grad parties with friends to celebrate the years we’ve supported each other through the ups and downs of life, not to mention school.
The road to graduation has finally come to a stop sign, but my road continues. Next stop for me, grad school.
By Liz Green (12)