Sunday, May 6, 2012


Today, I graduated from college.

Technically, I've been done with college since December. But because there is no December graduation, I had to wait four months until May. And because I've been planning a wedding, my formal graduation weekend has been more of a blip on my convoluted radar rather than a thrilling or exciting milestone.

The last time I sat in a graduation robe was in 2006--my high school graduation--anxious and naive to my future journeys into adulthood. But this weekend, I put on that robe, those cords, that goofy hat, and I was reminded of all that I've worked to achieved in the last six years of college (yes, six).

I sat in the commencement ceremony today thinking of the long hours spent writing term papers in the library, that test, that teacher, and all the stress, sweat, and tears I've put into earning my diploma in English education (magna cum laude, if I may).

Diploma from Dr. Wagner (Photo: James Hall)

Bible from Pastor Rich (Photo: Richard Young)
But my time at Union wasn't just about academics. It was about relationships and spirituality and athletics and emotion and growth. I like to think that I've worked to achieve more in the last six years than just a piece of paper with some fancy writing. Hearing my name read as I walked across the stage today meant more than an academic accomplishment. It meant proof of a journey. 

Proof that I have what it takes to graduate from college.
That I've endured and overcome relational heartache.
That I've traveled around the world and back again.
That I've come face-to-brutal-face with myself and had to accept what I found there.
That I've come to better know God and to better know myself.
That I've learned to communicate my needs and avoid expectations.
That I've overcome a freaking eating disorder and sent it packing.
That I've accepted vulnerability and transparency as strengths.
This diploma gives me proof that I am stronger than I thought.

Because this journey through college has taken me to places I never wanted to go, nor thought I needed to go. But I did. And here we stand. Smiling. Smiling!

Jeremy and I (Photo: Richard Young)   

I can't say that years ago, I thought I'd be smiling this much. Feeling this much. Loving this much.

Pastor Rich and I (Photo: Richard Young)

And it wasn't academia that brought me to this point. 
It was people. 
Who cared.
And reached out.
And loved.
Without restraint.
Without apology.

And I'm grateful. To have a diploma--if even that was necessary--to prove the journey I've taken and the journey I'm continuing. With their impact on my life forever intact.


kessia reyne said...

Congratulations! The diploma may be symbolic, but what it symbolizes is something very real and worth feeling proud of :)

Joe Okimi said...

As you prove on a regular basis, Heather, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Keep walking, 'cause you will knock down that wall. =)

Rich said...

Heather, You are amazing and well worth everything you put into these past six years.
Thanks for loving God, yourself, and others- in that order!