By Natasha Blakemore-Evans | May 8, 2017
Graduation Day 2015 was a combination of joyous excitement mixed with a bit of somber emotion. I was so excited, yet I also felt a little sad that the journey I had started so long ago was coming to an end.
I remember the morning of graduation day so vividly. I had family and friends in town for the big event. As I hurried them along to get ready so we could make it to the MAP commencement morning breakfast on time, there was a moment when everything was still. During that brief moment, I found myself deeply emerged in reflective thought about the many years, months, days, and hours that I had spent studying, writing papers, and preparing presentations. Initially, I thought of how wonderful it would be to no longer have classes to attend or papers to write, but then it dawned on me how amazing the journey had been and how much I would miss the class time, the instructors, and the interaction I enjoyed with my fellow classmates over the years.
Upon arriving at Marian, I noticed all of the MAP students happily mingling with the MAP staff, instructors, family, and friends. Everyone was enjoying breakfast, sharing hugs, and laughs as they posed for photographs. There was a buzz of excitement in the air. I was also able to reconnect with many former classmates who had graduated previously. It was wonderful how so many of them had come back to help the class of 2015 celebrate. This day was a day of inspiration, a day of accomplishment, and a day that each graduate worked hard to reach.
Finally, the time came for everyone to begin lining up to begin our procession. As we marched, I remember feeling overwhelmed with pride and a great sense of fulfillment; I had to fight hard to hold back the tears. The number of men and women all dressed in blue and gold was truly impressive. I was so happy to be one of them!
The commencement address was uplifting and well delivered by the speaker, Dennis E. Bland (President, Center for Leadership Development). His inspiring message challenged everyone, not just the graduates, to take personal charge in playing an active role in the world around us. He reminded us that our journey had not ended but instead was just at the beginning. After this empowering message, came the grand finale, the moment each of us had worked so hard for—to hear our name being called out and to walk across the stage to shake the hand of our Marian University President, Daniel J. Elsener. I was smiling from ear to ear, smiling so hard it hurt! My heart was racing like crazy. I was proud of my accomplishment and also grateful to everyone who had personally contributed to my success.
Hats off to the Class of 2017. Enjoy this special moment in your life’s journey. Congratulations, to each of you. And for those who have yet to walk across the stage, we’re all rooting for you. You can do it, too!