There are many types of walking.
I remember two of them at Alma.
The first walk wasn’t so much of walk more but of a run; when I jumped out of my old run-down minivan that was packed to the hilt with stuff and ran to the Newberry Lobby to proudly proclaim that I was here and ready to move into my room. On the way there I ran into someone I only knew on Facebook and said hello to uncertainly; my roommate.
I spent a lot of that day walking. Walking back and forth from my van to my room on first floor Newberry. Walking to the different buildings to meet new people. Walking to Play Fair. Walking to meet my Orientation Committee mentor. Walking to meet my RA, not knowing that she would influence me to apply for that position, which I would hold for three years.
I walked through four years at Alma, sometimes running, sometimes skipping, sometimes stumbling and crawling, but I made it to my final walk.
On Saturday, I stood outside in the bright sunshine, my phone clutched in my hand for picture taking, tottering in six inch heels that matched my graduation dress. I wasn’t sure if my hood was over my shoulders properly. My graduation cap made me feel like I had no hair. The black tassel kept blowing into my mouth in the wind.
And I walked into the Art Smith Arena with the rest of the class of 2014 to the sound of bagpipes, a sound that I used to hate but had grown to love.
I walked past where everyone was sitting and back to the choir section, where I vaguely wondered why I didn’t join the Alma Choirs until halfway through my junior year. The choir seniors stood in front, and when the time came, we sang Loch Lomond. We sing it at every commencement. I did not need my music. I sang the alto part with a voice scratchy from emotion and when I stole a glance at the large screen, I saw my face there and there was a huge smile on it.
What seemed like minutes later but was probably an hour, I was standing in a line with people who had the last name of H. We were being called to walk across the stage and get our diploma holders. (Diplomas get mailed later.) We were to cross the stage, shake President Abernathy’s hand, pause for a picture, and revel in this glorious moment.
I had been dreaming of it. When Dr. Arnold, my advisor, called my name, (“Emily Ruth Hollenberg, Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, honors in English”) I couldn’t hear anything that she said. I focused on not stepping out of my painful shoes. I kept my eyes focused on President Abernathy, who shook my hand and told me that he wanted to bring me a tie, a joke from sophomore year when he gave me one of his ties at a barbecue we were both attending. I smiled for the picture and tottered off the stage, holding my diploma holder, and I still could not hear anything.
I couldn’t hear anything properly until commencement was over and we all stood up and cheered. My face hurt from smiling and we bounced a beach ball around instead of throwing up our caps.
Then I walked outside, holding my diploma holder, stumbling in my shoes, my face splitting from a smile, in a sea of my happy peers and through a gauntlet of faculty that I could never thank enough for getting me through my four years at Alma.
I did it.
I’m not sure how to end this post. It has not sunk in yet that I have graduated and that I will never return as a student. It has not sunk in that this is my last blog post, and what a nostalgic post it is!
I’ve had many opportunities at Alma. One of them has been the privilege to write for this blog. I know it seems like a trivial thing, but it was something that I greatly loved and I hope that I can continue doing it professionally throughout the rest of my life.
Alma gives you opportunities like that. It gives you things to do for the rest of your life.
I made it. The class of 2014 made it.