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Well, I finally finished my coursework. It was official, I could graduate. I was so tired of those dreaded three-hour exams, research papers, all of that reading. Then Dianne at AU called, asking if I would attend the convocation ceremonies. Gosh, I was so tired of school. I thought that finishing was reward enough. Why go to the convocation? After all, I didn’t actually know anybody. I’d be graduating with strangers. I’d have to travel from BC to Alberta. I’d never been to Athabasca – it seemed a bit far away. Would my family travel that far? And besides, it’s that degree, that piece of paper, that matters most, right? So, why bother?
I told Dianne I’d consider attending, but wasn’t likely to, but a few hours later I got a phone call from my dad. Mom was very sick, and it would take some time and a lot of tests to find out what was wrong. Clearly, our family needed a ray of hope, something to look forward to. That call frightened me, but forced me to rearrange my priorities, So, I made a few calls. Mom said she would see me graduate if she had to be wheeled in on a stretcher, and my brother was more than willing to take time off of work. Next thing I knew, we were going to the convocation!
I learned how terribly wrong I was, and how important convocation is. There are no strangers at AU. Everywhere I went, I was warmly welcomed. The staff and volunteers were so down-to-earth and friendly, I felt right at home. I met my fellow graduates, and we had a great time chatting while lined up for the ceremony. The town of Athabasca is lovely, and definitely worth the visit. The floral displays and the grounds at the university were beautiful. I could tell that the town and the university worked very hard to make my day special, and they succeeded. The ceremony was beautiful–better than I could have imagined. I guess I’d been so wrapped up in finishing my courses and establishing my new career that I hadn’t realized the importance of taking the time to celebrate. When that memorable day was over, I realized I’d gained enormous pride in my alma mater and I felt so grateful for everyone’s work over the years. Perhaps most importantly, I gained pride in myself.
I realize that doling out unwanted advice is a risky venture, but I have a little message to all AU students: attend your grad. Even if you’re busy, a bit shy, even or really don’t want to travel–even if you don’t think it matters. No matter what is happening in your life, set the time aside and go. Celebrate your accomplishment, and share it with your school and your fellow graduates. I can promise that you won’t be sorry 🙂
Janine Menard, BA (!!!!!!!)