I’m not going to pretend like convocation was this massive grand ending to my life as an undergrad. I’m not going to say that it was that beacon of light at the end of this dark and uncertain tunnel that has kept me going through difficult times. I honestly didn’t even start thinking of convocation until a few months ago when a friend told me I had to apply to graduate. So, to say I’m terribly distraught over the fact that the Class of 2020’s convocation is now being moved online would be a flat out lie.
However, I know my perspective on this is not one mutually shared across campus and I genuinely sympathize with the people feeling cheated. To get through four years of exams, assignments, labs, and a bunch of other things we found ourselves facing — no matter how unprepared — is certainly cause to celebrate. And, for that, I want to applaud and congratulate my fellow graduates.
Having spent the last two months stuck at home, I’ve gotten the chance to do something I haven’t done in a long time: reflect. Reflect on what these last four years have meant to me. Reflect on the friendships gained and the friendships that disappeared as organic chemistry labs and stats assignments seemed to fill up our hours. Admire the veteran profs who have taught the same subject for 30 years, yet still come to every 9 a.m. class with the same enthusiasm and gusto of a novice. Celebrate the workers at Opa in SUB whose enthusiasm while taking my order gave me more of the much-needed midday pick-me-up than the food itself. Respect for the TAs who spent endless hours grading assignments and dealing with hundreds of emails, while also balancing their own work as graduate students. It really is amazing the unique backgrounds and perspectives that each person brings to make the mosaic that is the University of Alberta.
I think back to those days in class where all I ever wanted to do was go home and sleep. Dreaming of having all responsibility washed away so my only concern would be whether to watch The Office or How I Met Your Mother. Sitting here having all those “dreams” come true, I can’t help but long for those days of trying to take notes on the tiny desks in CCIS, or sprinting across campus from CCIS to ECHA in 10 minutes, or even having the dreaded three midterm week. Okay, maybe I don’t miss those three midterm weeks, but you know what I mean.
This time has allowed me to appreciate how incredible these last four years have been. These tough, exciting, long — yet so short — four years have taught me much more than the enzymes in glycolysis, the craters on Mars, or the deep-rooted themes in the graphic novel MAUS. It taught me about friendships, hard work, and not being afraid to get involved in the unique and special community that we have here at the U of A.
So even though we won’t be able to walk across that stage together, to my fellow graduates, I say thank you. Thank you for a great four years. Thank you for helping build such a welcoming and inclusive community. Thanks for making the U of A my home, because, right now, there is no place I’d rather be than home on campus.