On 13th July 2017 I passed a milestone in my life, on a day that I do not think I will ever forget; I graduated university!
I started the day coming to terms that this was it. Today was the day I was officially going to become a graduate, and receive that all important £27,000 piece of paper that says so (not bitter whatsoever about rising tuition fees…). All the hard work I had put in over the 3 years was leading up to this day. All of the trips to the library to do research for essays, all the 2 hour lectures that I fought ever so hard not to fall asleep in, and yes, even all of the nights out making memories with friends, were culminating in this one afternoon celebration.
As I live quite a far way out from Staffs, the day started first thing in the morning, getting my suit together and making sure everybody was up and ready to get going. We left at half past nine in the morning, picking my nan up on the way, and then made the 2 hour trek to Stoke. While I was a little bit both nervous and excited, honestly I was mostly tired and slipped in and out of consciousness for the trip up there. Once in the area, we stopped off at the campus to pick up my dissertation copy that I had handed in a few months prior. It was very weird walking around campus, fully decked out in a suit and tie.
When we finally got to the venue the nerves had oddly subsided. I collected my tickets and graduation gown, at which point I had a lovely conversation with the man that was dressing me. I wore one of my Pride flag enamel pins on the day, as I thought it was important for representation of LGBT+ people, and I wanted to photos of me to reflect that a key part of my time at Staffs was not only discovering more about who I am as an individual, but also supporting fellow members of the queer community.
If anything, I was mostly just excited to see friends that I hadn’t seen in months. After splitting up in May, I had hardly spoken to anyone from uni, so it was nice to see familiar faces being celebrated and awarded for their hard work. A big part of why I wanted to go to the graduation was to cheer on all the people I had grown close to, and it was lovely seeing them have their moment. And of course, lots of pictures were taken…
Unfortunately I couldn’t be with all of my friends who were graduating, as a lot of my friends were on different courses to me, but it was nice to see on my social media the photos of the memories my friends were making (shout out to Jordan who held up a ‘Mum I made it’ sign as he walked on stage 😂).
As for my own experience, honestly it felt so surreal. One minute I was sitting down in my row, cheering on the people before me, the next I was at the front of the queue ready to go on stage. Next thing I know I am sat back down in my spot, as if nothing happened. The actual moment was a blur, and it’s difficult to actually remember what happened. There was such a sensory overload, and while apparently my friends and family cheered for me, I was deaf to it at the moment and was just focusing on walking and shaking hands.
After the ceremony itself, more pictures were taken and I mingled with others for a little while before returning my graduation gown, and making the long trek back home. I ended the day with a small meal out with my family, having a discussion about my future goals to take down the dieting industry, how excited I am to now go do my Masters, and how much of a nice day out the day was. I think it is probably a combination of things, but after graduating I have definitely felt a shift in me to become the best version of myself I can be, and to help others to do the same.
See you in September Staffs! 👨🏻🎓