This is my final blog as a Ball State student (I can say that because they haven’t mailed my official diploma yet)! Four years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead in the next four! To catch you up, I spent the last week of school trying to pack in as much as possible. My last day of school with my third graders was on Tuesday. I knew it would be hard to say good-bye to my little munchkins, but it was equally as difficult to leave the teachers and staff who have been so kind and supportive these past few months as I’ve learned how to be an effective teacher. I miss them already and am planning a return trip this week to visit!
Some of my roommates and I spent the night before graduation ferociously cleaning our entire house, baseboards to ceiling vents. Let’s just say, it needed a deep clean, and since all our parents were coming the next day, we decided now was as good a time as any. Until 2 a.m., we were sweeping, dusting, and mopping, and then came the graduation gown ironing and cap decorating. I used glitter glue, which was still wet during the ceremony, so I had to be careful not to drag my tassel through it!
The morning of graduation is a bit of a blur because everything moved so quickly! We stood in line with our respective colleges, and Allie saved seats for my parents and grandparents. She was also the honorary photographer during the occasion… what an amazing friend! At the main commencement ceremony, we walked down the aisle, sat in our seats, and moved our tassel when instructed to. Our main speaker was Jeffrey Feltman, who is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. HOLY SMOKES, I really graduated!
After the main commencement, I had a few short minutes to hug and thank my family for coming before hustling back to another line to wait for the Teacher’s College graduation exercises to start. At this ceremony, I walked across the stage of the Art Museum to receive my diploma cover and shake the hand of Dean John Jacobson. Glenda Ritz, Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, was our main speaker, and her speech resonated well with me. Her passion was evident as she spoke, and my favorite line was, “I will never teach my “last lesson” in a classroom. I promise to be an active educator as long as I live.” After the second ceremony, it was picture time, and then we made the trek back to my house for lunch and cake. It was nice to hang out with my family and friends at the place I’ve called home for the past four years. A few hours after graduating, I rushed home to see my brother and his date at prom, and seeing my brother all spiffied up made me one proud sister!
I had a one-day break after graduation before leaving on a CRUISE to the BAHAMAS with my roommates and best friends! We had received an option to upgrade to priority status, or VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) as Carnival calls it. We chose to accept the upgrade, and it was the greatest decision we’ve ever made! We had a huge suite with a balcony and walk-in closet, and we bypassed all the waiting in line to make it straight on the ship! We spent two days hanging out on the boat, soaking up some rays, and racing each other down the slippery slides! It felt good to be a five-year-old again!
The last three days of our cruise were spent exploring Half Moon Cay, Nassau, and Freeport in the Bahamas. In Half Moon Cay we swam with stingrays and fed them sushi! The stingrays acted appropriately with everyone else, but when they got to me, the stingray sucked up my whole hand and bit me with its molars! Yikes! Thankfully, I survived with just a small ouchie In Nassau, my friends and I toured the local attractions, went shopping on the main street, and spent time at a small beach called Junkanoo.
In Freeport, Allie and I went scuba diving while the rest of my friends went snorkeling. This was by far my absolute favorite adventure! We had an amazing dive crew and fellow dive team, which consisted mostly of men over 30. I’m pretty sure they don’t have a lot of female divers down there, because at the end of our dives, the one in charge of the boat said, “I don’t know who trained you girls, but they did a fantastic job. You guys are great divers!” We were grateful for their vote of confidence! Both dives were phenominal: Plate Reef was 85 feet and Reef Caribe was 45 feet. Among many species of fish that we identified, we also saw our first reef sharks… one on each dive! They were big and a little bit scary!
Back at home just in time for Mother’s Day, I have been spending time with family and trying to assume normal eating habits. Snacking every two hours at the 24-hour ice cream machine on the ship and eating gourmet, four-course meals every night placed me in a predicament upon return. Tonight, my sister and dad made steak and shrimp, so they are slowly easing me back to reality! I also spent the majority of my day today cleaning my room… the many boxes and bags that represented the accumulation of four years of college “stuffs” took me awhile to sort through. Spring cleaning now has a whole new meaning to me!
As my years as an undergraduate come to an end, the big question that always lingers is, “Well, now that you’ve graduated, what are you going to do?” I am excited to say that I have accepted a Fulbright grant from the U.S. Congress to teach in Germany for the coming academic year! It’s crazy, it’s scary, and it seems like a dream right now… I’m sure it won’t feel real until I am boarding the plane for my trans-atlantic flight! There are many people in my life who have shown support and encouragement to me as I have grown the past 21 years, and I am grateful to include Ball State and its faculty to that list. This university, with its immersive programs, innovative technology, and creative approaches to learning, has been a guiding force in the achievement of my goals and dreams! Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful summer!