Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Graduation

 We've been running a column series (for over two years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about graduation, since we can both relate to that topic this year.

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Sara Steven:                                                                                                                               
May 12th, 2022 had been a day that was a long time coming for me.                                                                                                                            I finally, FINALLY graduated from college.                                                                                          I hadn’t always known that higher learning was in the cards for me. In fact, I barely made it through my high school years. If you would have asked me if college was in my future even ten years ago, I would have probably said that there was no way in hell I’d ever go back to school. I never felt I was any “good” at it. 

But when my then kindergartener started his first year of elementary school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my own life. I felt I was at a crossroads. I’d spent over a decade working in property management while living in Nebraska, which I enjoyed a lot, but the circumstances felt different in Arizona. We had moved to the Grand Canyon State in 2015, and I spent the first year working with my youngest son in order to prepare him for kindergarten–I found a homeschool program I could utilize that would help me to teach him his numbers, letters, how to write, how to read…the preschool programs we’d considered that were in person had been full by the time we moved to Arizona, the timing of enrollment so completely different than what I’d been used to in Nebraska. 

And while I felt proud of my son and proud of myself for helping him to achieve the benchmarks he’d needed to start kindergarten, I knew it would mean a change for me, considering his older brother had started his sixth grade year at the same elementary school. 

I decided to try one class at the local community college. I figured if I didn’t like it, I could always leave it there. But I liked it. A lot. So I decided to enroll in two classes the following semester, with the same mindset. It wasn’t until the start of 2018 that I actually buckled down and sought out an advisor who could help me figure out what courses I needed to enroll in, in order to gain my associates degree. I discovered during that meet-up that I could become part of the Pathways program offered through Maricopa Community Colleges, where I could earn my associates through any of the community colleges under the Maricopa umbrella, then transfer to one of the four year institutions here in Arizona. Considering Arizona State University had one of the closest campuses to where I live–ten minutes–I knew that would be the best fit for me and my family.

The girl who had skipped the majority of her junior year of high school, who had become quite familiar with the letter “F” and had thought she was a terrible student, turned out to be an awesome student at the college level. I graduated with an accumulated GPA of 3.9 while in Community college, and a 4.21 GPA at Arizona State University. 

It wasn’t easy. I spent several hours a day on my studies. There were semesters where I juggled five courses–eighteen credits. There were classes that were required, like anything math-related, that frustrated me and felt like torture. But there were writing-inspired classes that filled me with energy and excitement, because I’d felt like I was surrounded by other people (online or in person) who got me. I didn’t do it alone, either. My family, especially my husband, was a huge support. He picked up the slack if need be, and my kids knew if my bedroom door was closed, it most likely meant that Mom was studying. My parents were supportive, my friends let me vent to them when I needed to. I had a really great support system that got me through the four years it has taken me to graduate with honors. 

My father let me know the other day that he’s considering going back to school! The oldest graduate in my class had been seventy-seven, and my father said he’d noticed the man mixed in within the group of graduating students at my convocation ceremony. I believe that it’s never too late. I also hope my boys are a little inspired by their “old” mom going back to school. I like to joke with them and say, “If I can do well in college, and I can’t even remember what I did yesterday, then I know you can do well when you go to college, too.” 

With family

With family and friends

Melissa Amster:                                                                                                 
This year, two of my kids are graduating. One is graduating eighth grade and the other is graduating fifth grade. So I will have two kids in high school this fall. (Gasp!) The last time we had a graduation in our family was when my oldest graduated eighth grade in 2020, at the height of the pandemic. They did a virtual graduation and we were thrilled when he won one of the highest awards at his school. 

Eighth grade graduation (at home), 2020
Currently in tenth grade

I think the fifth grade graduation will be the most bittersweet for me as this is my last child to graduate from elementary school. We started there in 2009 when we moved to the DC area and my oldest had recently turned four. They have an amazing pre-K program. My other two kids eventually joined him at this school. They all had the same teacher for second grade, which I thought was really cool, especially since she's one of the best teachers they've had. My younger two also had the same kindergarten teacher. Needless to say, we've had a long history with this school between all three kids and it will be strange for none of them to be going there in the fall. 

Fifth grade graduation, 2019
Graduating eighth grade soon

I haven't had much involvement with my eighth grader's school. He spent part of sixth grade and all of seventh grade learning from home. My fifth grader will be going there in the fall, so maybe I'll be able to get more involved while she's there for the next three years. 

Pre-K graduation, 2016
Graduating fifth grade soon

All I know is that I'm not ready for my oldest to graduate high school, but at least he has two more years to go until then. I'm sure that time will just fly by though, as it always tends to do! In the meantime, I'm going to share a fun memory from my high school graduation. One of my closest friends was a freshman at the time and he was in either band or chorus, but it somehow put him and everyone else in that group close to the front. When I went up to get my diploma, I heard him cheer for me and that just made my day and meant a lot to me. (Clearly it still does if I am talking about it this many years later!)

My high school graduation, with my
friend from Amsterdam

Tell us about the graduations in your life!

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

No comments: