[Let me preface this post by informing you that I work at a small public institution of higher education in the south. It's a great job as the people that I work with make it fun and exciting 4 out of 5 days a week. And now that you are informed, hopefully the rest of this post will make more sense. Now let's continue...]
Things around here are pretty quiet now that summer is just around the corner. Classes are passed (for the most part), apartments are cleaned out and old roommates are dumped for new suite mates. There is a sense of freedom in the air. Skirt length has become directly proportional to the rising temperatures and everyone seems to have relaxed just a smudge.
Graduation is only two days away. I'm especially excited because MG will be graduating with his Masters Degree in College and Community Counseling. Oh, did I mention that he will graduate Suma Cum Laude with a 4.0? (I had to brag a little).
Okay, back to graduation. The ceremonial goodbye. Having worked here for four lovely years I've seen a lot of students cross the stage. But this year feels different. Perhaps it’s because this year's graduating class began their education the same year I began this job. In a way it's a milestone - I've been here long enough to watch a group of students go through from beginning to end. From freshman to senior. From uninvolved to organization chair. From a job in D-hall to an internship at CVS. From formal emails to late-night texts. From "Dear Ms. Rentschler" to "Hey Jen! What's up?!" From scheduled meetings in my office to dinner-and-a-movie on Friday night (yeah, we're that close).
I've had students dropping by all week saying goodbye and bringing me gifts. Let me pause to point out just how much I love getting presents - and this week's loot has been pretty awesome... jewelry, Vera Bradley items, scented soap, poetic wall art, personalized picture frames and even a handmade fleece cat print scarf complete with multicolored plastic pony beads.
But as much as I love these thoughtful presents, the real gift these students have given me is their time and trust. I am honored to have been invited into their lives (and in some cases, into their drama) and allowed me to be a part of their college experience.
I am so proud of their accomplishments that I will be packin' some Kleenex at graduation. And while I love the little tokens they wrap up in tissue and place in ornate bags - nothing compares to the journey they've allowed me to share with them.
Well, except for my handmade fleece cat scarf. It's pretty sweet.