Graduation stirs mix of emotions, optimism

Tessa Duvall

Feelings are funny things.

Remember a month ago when I was so excited about becoming an alumna of WKU and proclaimed ‘the best homecomings are yet to come’ and yadda yadda yadda?

Can someone remind me of that, please?

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You see, this time of the semester is full of “lasts” — one right after the other, smacking me in the face. Last semi-formal. Last week of undergraduate classes. Last sorority meeting. Last College Heights Herald byline. Last Student Publications banquet. Last day as a student of WKU.

If change is inevitable, then why does it freak me out so much?

I remember when graduation suddenly felt like a reality: the day I went to the grad fair.

On my way into the Augenstein Alumni Center, I saw a girl walk out, cap and gown in hand.

I forgot to order mine, I thought. Crap.

Then I stepped inside the ballroom only to see boxes upon boxes full of caps and gowns directly across the room from me.

Oh. We get those today.

When I was handed my cap and gown, one of the women working at the table pointed out my reaction.

“Oh, it did just hit her! Look, she’s getting emotional. And red!” she said, grinning at me.

Here’s the thing: I am red, and not just in that moment.

I am the truest shade of Hilltopper Red. I was raised by two WKU alumni and sold Girl Scout Cookies to the Lady Topper basketball team as a little girl. I learned the Fight Song by heart before freshman year began and still take a picture with Big Red every chance I get. WKU has very much become a part of me.

I am at home on this Hill.

Although I know WKU will always be close to my heart, I am still dreading Dec. 14.

Suddenly the graduation cap that has been staring at me for the last month will come out of the bag and sit atop my head. My name will be called, I’ll hug Gary and turn my tassel.

For the first time since age five, I will no longer be a student.

I suppose that could be a nice change. I definitely won’t miss all-nighters in Mass Media’s computer lab, nor 14-hour days on campus.

But, that also means no more late-night GADS trips and no more walking by the cherry tree blossoms every spring.

It’s a little odd to feel so conflicted about this graduation thing, but I think it’s a good sign. It means I loved my time on the Hill and am sad to see it end. It also means I’m excited about my future, but anxious about what it may hold.

Feelings are funny things, indeed.