Tuesday, May 10, 2011

And The Beat Goes On...

What a week it has been! Wonderful memories made, albeit some bittersweet, but wonderful nonetheless. This past week, two important milestones came to fruition in my life. I got to celebrate my twenty third birthday on May 5th and two days later, celebrated my graduation from college!

I have been looking forward to celebrating my twenty third birthday for quite some time, mainly in part due to the second milestone in my life--graduating from college. For the third time in four years and during my time at Anderson University, I was done with exams the day before my big day. I hated it my freshmen year when I discovered my birthday would be during finals week, but it has been a joy that the last three years I have had no finals on May 5th. Coincidentally, my birthday is also the day when the Mexican populace commemorates Cinco de Mayo, celebrating Mexican heritage and pride, and the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. As has been tradition two years running, some friends of mine made way to Real Hacienda, a Mexican Restaurant in Anderson to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and my 23rd birthday. It was a joyous occasion that entailed amazing Mexican cuisine, a Sombrero, and getting my face plastered with pie. Afterwards, my friends gathered at my house and threw a surprise birthday party and dance party. A memorable night I will soon not forget.

Two days later, I woke up frantically and realized I was running late...to my graduation! Not a great start to what would turn out to be a most excellent day! lol. The night before, I had in mind to set my alarm to 7:35am in order to give myself adequate time to shower and get dressed, and be in the Decker Breezeway (where all graduates were asked to meet) at 9:15am. My alarm went off at 8:35, how that happened I have no clue. Needless to say, I frantically got up, took a very, very quick shower , got dressed and practically ran to get to Decker in time. It took us about 40 minutes to get ready and make our way into Reardon Auditorium for the Baccalaureate service that morning, during which time I realized I had no need to rush to get to the breezeway.

We made our way into Reardon in two lines and were seated by ushers. It was quite a spectacle in Reardon, seeing the AU Chorale ready to sing their hearts out to mark this special occasion. Our guest speaker that morning was the Reverend Charles Myricks Jr., better known as Chuck. He proceeded to give a wonderful sermon about dreams, knowing who the interpreter for our dreams is--God--and allowing Him and trusting Him to know the plans for our lives. The service concluded with the singing of the Alma Mater.

Following the service, I made my way to the second floor of Decker Hall to attend the Cultural Resource Center (CRC) Graduate Reception. The CRC houses the offices of International Student Services (ISS) and Multicultural Student Services (MSS). It was good to meet with friends and family, to chill for a bit in the midst of all the craziness that was going on. The highlight of the day came when my aunt Suzanne, accompanied by my uncle Paul and my cousin Paul Jr., waled in after driving the whole morning from Maryland. She is one of the people that played a vital role in my coming to the U.S. for school, she picked me up at the airport my very first day in the States, and helped me get settled into college. She was there when it all began, and I couldn't be happier that she here, finally, at the end of my journey at AU.

After the reception, I made my way into Reardon Auditorium once more and this time we got lined up in order, and given instructions for Commencement. We made the long walk from Reardon to the Kardatzke Wellness Center for Commencement--a long, bittersweet walk. The honorary isle--with Professors and Staff members lined up on either side--was all set up as we walked into Kardatzke, a final opportunity to say thanks and bye to some of the most amazing teachers and people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. At the end of the isle stood University President Dr. James Edwards and the guest speaker for Commencement, Steven Curtis Chapman, who would later be awarded the honorary title of Doctor. He proceeded to give a well thought out speech and received a arousing applause afterwards, and then...the moment we had all been waiting for arrived. First came the Doctoral and Master of Theology and Divinity degrees, followed by the Doctoral and Master degrees in Business Administration and Nursing, and finally, the Bachelor of Arts degrees. I waited anxiously and nervously as names were called, and finally heard my name called. I couldn't resist the hand-pumping-finger-pointing-to-the-sky-face-turned-to-the-camera gesture as I walked up to shake President Edwards' hand and receive the empty folder with a letter from the Financial Services office explaining that due to a financial hold on my account, I was not getting my degree just yet. That did not deter me from giving the crowd a big smile and in turn, smiled at the camera. After barely sitting down, I got a text from my mum letting me know they had seen me walk across the stage via live webcast made possible by AU, and I couldn't help the rush of emotion that came over me with that text. I was happy and I wasn't afraid to let the whole world know. I had made it. God had seen me through! What a wonderful day! But it was far from over...

Following the end of Commencement, we made our way into the O.C Lewis Gymnasium for a reception as there was fear that the grounds outside were too wet for this event. After half an hour of mingling and taking pictures with friends and family, it was time to head out to the York Seminary Apartments for a joint Open House Party with Hellen Obwoge, a School of Theology graduate from Kenya. It was a wonderful time with family and friends, enjoying some Kenyan and American cuisine and snacks, followed by a few words from both parties.

It's been a few days since the day of graduation, but I am still not over the euphoria of that day, nor of the day I celebrated my 23rd birthday. You could say I am still in the honeymoon stage of post graduation. I have a somewhat obscure picture of what the next few weeks and months are going to look like, but I have also come to know that sometimes what we think is the way is not God's way, and it's therefore, cardinal that we learn to trust God for direction. I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that God will open and is opening doors for the next chapter of my life, but in the mean time...the beat goes on.