As the winter quarter came to a close, there were textbook rentals to turn in and final papers to submit. The midnight oil was burning to ensure good grades. It was my last quarter at California State University, East Bay. I will be graduating with a degree in communication with an emphasis in media production.
My journey to get to graduation was long and arduous. It was not filled with sorority-rushing, wild dorm parties or college athletic games like most college experiences. It took me fourteen years and six quarters to finally graduate.
The long journey was plagued with the death of a parent, a learning disability, college changes, moves to different cities and working full time. I have nannied ten children. I have been a celebrity assistant in Hollywood. I have had my own massage therapy practice for the last ten years and ran my own catering company for three years. I have worked, raised children and gone to school for a decade.
Fourteen years ago, I graduated high school in the Bay Area, was accepted to CSUEB and planned to play on the softball team. I met with the coaches and enrolled in classes. However, life throws curveballs and unforeseen situations. When my father’s health began to decline, I had to withdraw from CSUEB and enroll at Diablo Valley College.
I took night classes for five years and obtained a certified massage therapy license while working full time. I had all the classes needed to transfer to a university to complete my degree, but one specific math class requirement was not met. This was the biggest stumbling block and it took me close to four years to pass this class. I failed six times.
There were many moments I wanted to give up on school and literally thought graduating from a university was never going to happen.
Nevertheless, I kept picking myself up and moving forward. It became a personal vendetta. Most importantly the drive to finish school was for my own personal accomplishment and for my father who had passed years before.
I finally passed the math class and was advised by a counselor to opt for a communication degree since I wouldn’t have to take any more math classes. It seemed to make the most sense for me because I was currently working for a San Francisco-based marketing and branding company.
The communication degree I am about to earn encompasses what I truly enjoy: talking to people, working with a team of people and conveying a message or story in the workforce.
Now, I am approaching the end of this bittersweet journey and I can see that it was worth every minute attributed to it. Traditionally, it ends with a walk across a stage to receive a diploma but not for me.
After all of this, you would think that I would want to participate in the graduation ceremony for all the reasons listed above. However, graduation costs additional money for caps and gowns which is money I’d rather spend elsewhere. All I want is my diploma in a nice frame on my wall.
Most of my fellow classmates and professors are shocked that I will opt out of walking after working hard for my degree for over a decade. But I have other plans for myself, and I know I am not the only student who feels the same way about walking in the graduation ceremony.
“I am graduating this quarter, I did school for me, and I feel that the ceremony is for everyone else to watch you,” said Juana Davila, a fellow graduating student from Cal State East Bay.
Now that this accomplishment is checked off my list, I will be working on the launch of my food and travel blog which will focus on my other passion, cooking plant-based dishes and experiencing different restaurants locally and abroad.
I am looking to go on an adventure by moving to Lisbon, Portugal in June to work and immerse myself in the Portuguese culture as well as traveling around Europe. I have saved up and prepared to sell my car in preparation for my June departure. Furthermore, I am now graduating college and closing this chapter in my life. I am looking forward to my future and excited about my new adventure.