It is getting to be that time of year when students nearing the end of their program are trying to decide whether to make the pilgrimage to Athabasca for convocation or not.
I decided early that I wanted to make it there, I wanted to walk that stage and be handed the degree I had worked so hard to earn. As the date neared, and I added up the kilometers, the hours, the money, I wondered, is this going to be worth it? Should I be making this trip for a symbolic walk across the stage when my degree had already been mailed to me and the folder we are handed is all but empty—symbolic. Still, I decided to go, I had worked hard to get the courses finished in time to make it there last year, it seemed silly to waffle.
And, I am so glad I did. It was an amazing experience. It was the perfect way to put a period at the end of the chapter. It topped it off and made it feel done, finished, achieved. If I hadn’t gone I think it would have felt like it had just faded off, there would have been no closure. In the weeks that followed my final assignment it felt incomplete. I received final grade, even the degree in the mail, and still somehow it felt unfinished. But, going to Athabasca, seeing the university, walking through the library I had called so many times, made everything feel solid, real, and finished. I was surrounded by the classmates I had never met and I was amazed at the connection I was able to find with them. I saw students that I had chatted with many times on the Facebook groups, and I heard the stories of everyone as they walked across that stage, everything they dreamed of, from running a bee farm to the struggles they overcame to be standing on the stage to hold that degree and how that was instrumental in realizing their dreams.
So, if you are able, I would strongly suggest going to convocation. I came away with such a feeling of accomplishment. Something I should have felt even without it, but there was just something about being there and being a part of the buzzing of excitement. AU does an amazing job in organizing convocation. There is no time for a rehearsal, like other schools do, but they have it down; It’s done with such precision that it doesn’t matter if you know where you’re going or not, there is someone at every turn, every moment, to guide you or show you where to go. I was anxious about this part of it, how do I know what to do, when to do it, but they have put this on so many times it is seamless and stress-free, the only thing I had to worry about was tripping on my way across the stage, and I am sure if that happened, they had someone ready to make it feel not so embarrassing.
But, if you can’t go, (after all, AU students are rather spread out across the world) I would suggest doing something to celebrate your achievement, even just watching the livestream of convocation. Achieving your goal, finishing your degree, is a huge step. Finishing it through distance education is even more of an accomplishment and shows your level of commitment to yourself and your dedication to your studies. don’t let the completion of that go unmarked. Celebrate yourself, celebrate your classmates.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at https://deannaroney.wordpress.com/