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Thursday, May 14, 2009

I graduated! Now what?

Now that the flurry of Emory Commencement Weekend has come to a close, I can finally sit down and sort through the excitement of everything that has happened. Everything leading up to Monday—Candlelight Crossover, the Torch and Trumpet SoirĂ©e, the Block Party, etc.—was preparation for Commencement. I spent the weekend celebrating with friends and family, getting ready to put on my cap and gown and make the walk across the stage to get my diploma.

It wasn’t until I was walking to campus in my cap and gown Monday morning that it hit me.

This is it.

I then spent about an hour waiting in alphabetical order to walk onto the Quadrangle. Each school was lined up in its respective area, so I was surrounded by my BBA classmates, all of us hoping it wouldn’t rain and that we wouldn't trip on stage.

As we made our way onto the Quad it was quite a sight to see. There were thousands of family members and friends crowded in, trying to catch a glimpse of their special graduate. Even my parents managed to find me and were standing ready with a camera to take about a million pictures, which all look the same I’m sure. It was a proud moment to stand among so many Emory graduates, all excited that they had made it here.

Even the rain that inevitably began to fall could not put a damper on the morning. President Jim Wagner pushed through to give his address, award honorary degrees, and offer congratulations. Crystal Edmonson 95C, president of the Emory Alumni Board, welcomed us to the alumni body with open arms and an invitation to stay involved with our alma mater.

We also heard from former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, who posed a great challenge to us all—to use the amazing education we have received to become leaders in all aspects of our lives.
I then left the Quad with my Goizueta Business School classmates to attend our own champagne brunch before receiving our diplomas. I heard that the remainder of the Emory College diploma ceremony on the Quad was a delightful two-and-a-half hour reading of names. I count myself lucky that there were only about 300 graduating BBAs.

After the ceremony I reunited with my family and friends to take more pictures of everyone dressed up before we all promptly changed out of those ridiculous caps and gowns into something more comfortable to spend the rest of the day celebrating.

I don’t think I stopped crying the whole day. I am so happy to have graduated (or at least to have celebrated it since I’ve been done since December) but so sad that it’s over. It’s a bittersweet ending to the best four years of our lives. I look forward to seeing what my friends and I will accomplish moving forward and know that our Emory bonds will keep us together.

--Kelley Quinn 08B, leadership team assistant, EAA

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