600 cases, 8 quarters, countless cold calls, late nights and TNDCs later I am finally an MBA.
Yesterday the Full Time MBA Class of 2010 at Darden graduated, under the encouraging gaze of Thomas Jefferson’s statue at Flagler Courtyard and under a blue-gray sky that threatened to spill over any moment.
First we had the main graduation ceremony at The Lawn in Central Grounds (UVA) where the whole university’s graduating class (ie from all departments) gathered to take their degrees. After a lot of balloon-flying, clapping and hooting, we were finally allowed to shift our tassels from the right side (no degree) to the left (degree bestowed). It was a great feeling to be sitting in that historic place and to know that I will forever be an alumnus of this beautiful and historically and intellectually rich university. From there on, it was on to Darden for our ceremony and to receive the diploma. As I sat there and clapped for all my classmates getting their degrees and later walked up to take my own, it dawned on me that the umbilical cord was finally being cut, and we were free to go out into the world to do everything we dreamt of when we came here.
We went to the grand staircase outside Saunders Hall right after the ceremony to take our picture and then it was pictures time with the family, friends and whoever we could find. One last grand Darden bagged lunch later, I was home.
After a lot of confusion on rain or not, I was so happy that the rain decided to wait until after the ceremony. In fact, as we finished our pictures at the grand staircase, the first big drops of rain started to fall and by the time my family and I made it back to Ivy, it was pouring in earnest, as it can do only in Charlottesville.
I’ve had a night to sleep over this new status as an MBA and Darden alumnus. Somehow it refuses to sink in. I woke up this morning expecting to feel different, but I was disappointed. I was the same person, still unable to function without my morning tea, still basking in the wonder of having a United States driver’s license and still very much in love with Arch’s FroYo! Somewhere inside me I know I’m now different, much better than the person I came here as, two years ago. On the outside I am still me, cringing that yet another goodbye is here, wondering when the stability I have craved for but always avoided will come to my life.
This morning I earnestly missed my Darden friends, wished I had another day of trudging through the school for a class, yearned to call some folks for coffee at our favorite coffee shop at Barracks Road and as I type this out, I’d rather be hanging out at Italian Villa cracking jokes with the gang than in my room going to bed before midnight. Real life calls, but I will always treasure the friendships and adventures this place has allowed me to have.
This morning, as I drove my parents around my favorite places in C’ville, I couldn’t help but think about all the people in my life that made this incredible journey possible. From support, to essay reviews, to just their time on the phone/messenger/person when I needed it. The list is too long, but this roll of paper that is my diploma would not have been possible without their support.
Dear Darden, you will be missed, but I will cherish the title of being a Darden alumnus for as long as I live.