Yesterday was my graduation ceremony... and it was a completely bittersweet experience. Don't get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled that I am done at the CINO college! I mean, I will be as soon as I get my Thesis back to do the editing. No, I still haven't gotten it back... but neither have ANY of the Religious Studies majors (there were a total of five of us yesterday, though only three showed up).
The only regret-like feelings I have about my time at that school is not spending more time with the girls who have become good friends over the last two years. I won't get to see them at least twice a week anymore. Grad School and/or work will have everyone busy so seeing them won't be as easy. I've already made it a goal to have lunch with them (either together or individually) at least once a month while we still can. I don't know where I'll end up going to Grad School (at this point it's looking like I'm most likely heading out of state next year) so I'm going to try to see them while we all have a chance. Besides this, and not spending my time studying (I truly am an academic nerd), there is nothing I will miss about attending this school.
I will not miss the 4-6 a.m. wake up times just to get to class on time. I will not miss the hour to three hour commute to and from the campus despite living a couple of miles away. If you live in L.A., you know what a pain the 405 is in the morning... and most of the day. I won't miss the dirty looks from professors. I won't miss the mud slinging the professors do at the Church, the Pope, and priests. I won't miss feeling angry, nauseous, and/or sad whenever my classmates and/or professors try to pass some liberal theology off as "Catholic" when it's clearly against Church teachings.
While waiting in line, before we walked into the amphitheater (yes, the school had to rent out an amphitheater to fit us and our families in... and even then it was packed), I met and spoke to a fellow Religious Studies grad. She was not part of the traditional B.A. program so that is why I hadn't met her before. I spent a good hour talking about our experience as a Religious Studies major... and it was quite similar. She did not appreciate what we were "taught" and was anxious to get out. She had professors whose theology was off and while she knew what the true Church teaching were, she was still "wrong" because she was the student and the professor was superior in knowledge to her. She also couldn't get a hold of her Thesis adviser and had to do editing over the summer despite finishing early. Sound familiar? One thing she said has (and will remain) stuck in me: despite our negative experiences, our love of God and our faith has strengthened and there's no "going back." She's a bit older than I am (with grown kids) so she was lamenting on how my generation views religion and spirituality. I told her about my Thesis and how there are some of us who are trying to combat it... and this just invigorated my desire to keep going forward.
I still don't know how I'm going to do it but I know that God has given me a gift that I can use to help others. God has blessed me with love and patience to spare as well as the ability to speak to those who are younger and make them understand certain things. Though I don't think a traditional classroom setting is right for me (my heart nor my mind are in it), I know that working with young adults, teenagers, and kids is where my gifts will be best used. I've often told God, especially when I'm kneeling in front of the tabernacle, that everything I do is and will be done for Him and not for myself. Now that I'm officially out of school, it's time to really show that.
Beyond walking into the graduation ceremony, having my name called (and turning bright red and hurrying off the stage as quickly as I could; I am not big on having attention on myself), and leaving early, the ceremony was a blur. I remembered holding my locket (in which I placed a picture of my dad) and saying "I promised you I would finish, and I did." I remember talking to my friends before we went in. I remember seeing my family and friends afterwards. I also remember getting hugged by my music professor (seriously) as she walked in with the rest of the professors. Beyond that, all I could think of was how excited I was and how grateful I was to God for everything I'd endured and for getting to that point.
I don't know what the future holds, what my first job out of college will be, or where I will be in a year's time, but I have full faith in God and know He will point me in the right direction. For the first time in my life, I don't have a plan for the future (well, besides hopefully starting Grad School next year) and I'm okay with that.
Anyway, that's it for now. I'm going to try to post daily now that I have the time to actually write.
A massive THANK YOU to each and every one of you who prayed for me throughout my journey through the CINO college. I appreciate it more than you know.
I hope you are all having a great start of week and will have a great rest of week. :D
As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D