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How to Graduate

Updated: Jul 27, 2023


Group photo from graduation weekend just outside of the Walkup SkyDome in Flagstaff, AZ
Group photo from graduation weekend just outside of the Walkup SkyDome in Flagstaff, AZ

Just last weekend, I was in Flagstaff, Arizona. This is where I graduated from undergrad, but also where some dear friends were graduating and I was compelled to visit. Graduation is a time of commemorating how far an individual has come academically, typically, but it is also a time to reflect mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Overall, maybe, you will hear about how far you have come and they will tell you, maybe about what the future holds-- as if they (your loved ones) have seen eight steps ahead, but are only allowed to give you a glimpse at one. How do you even get to that point? How do you get to graduation?


Here are the steps in no particular order: form community, engage with peoples, events, and cultures outside of those which you identify, ask for help and support as needed, ask questions, be honest, and do your best no matter what that looks like.


Forming community can be based on who looks like you. For some it is joining racial/ethnic/cultural/social organization such as a Greek organization, Black Student Unions/Associations, or Indian Student Associations. For others, forming community arrives through volunteering or jobs close to campus. Either way you find community, find it, but also form it. I must articulate that finding community and forming it are two different things. I said to form community because you cannot always depend on particular structures to exist; you cannot depend on a certain group of peoples that you have an affinity towards to always be there. Since I have started undergrad, many people have also started, finished, or matriculated elsewhere. I formed community based on mutual interests (from language to animes) and the premises of leaving things better than I found it (via volunteering or being a part of student government). My point here is this: you cannot wait for people to come to you. You must set the tone, the pace, and temperature. Forming community permits more room to be supported than finding it. Check out the other How-Tos for more information on that.


Engaging with people, cultures, and events outside of which you identify is a way to not only build cross-cultural understanding, but see how much more you relate to others. It allow you to segue into conversations you never thought you would have and allows you to be more comfortable about the ways in which you belong. When you feel like you belong, that no ones out to getcha, that makes breathing through the hard parts, in my opinion, that much more possible.


Ask for help and support as needed. Ask questions.

Ask for help and support as needed. Ask questions.

Ask for help and support as needed. Ask questions.

This is basically what I have for this paragraph. The professors are there for you. The staff is there for you. Their jobs and your role as student and individual is what complements theirs. If not for you, where might they be? Get comfortable asking. You are in a position where you are not only learning, but like a newborn babe, you are fed academically, professionally, and socially when you can release your pride and attend office hours, send the email requesting an assignment extension, or talk to the professor after class about how difficult the assignment is. I'm not asking you to do anything beyond that which you are capable of: you have a voice and you must use it. You must be proactive in letting others know how you want to be treated and interacted with. Consider being able to ask about things its own boundary, or its own game. Being able to ask for more time with an assignment allows you to go to the next level and ask people how you can support them better. It may even lead to questions about the government, food sovereignty, and the past. No matter what, just remember: closed mouths don't get fed.


Be honest. Maybe you didn't study, maybe you do not want to, but you know that there will be repercussions and effects of each action. Be honest about the potential mess you can make by procrastinating something. Be honest with your friends if a class is more stressful than you thought and instead of going partying together, you need some folk to pray and study together. Being honest lets more love and support in than forming community can alone. Forming community is almost like picking whose on the team. Being honest, vulnerable, inquisitive, passionate, proactive, etc. is like you forming teammates.


Do you best, whatever that looks like.

Maybe you have heard a quote that goes something like: anything worth doing is also worth doing poorly. It is its own revelation that even your "best" will be in flux from time to time. Sometimes attending something is not about mingling with everyone, but showing up, being there and accounted for. Sometimes academics are the same: showing up to class, doing the assignment that you do not know how to do, and attending Zoom office hours even if it is the last fifteen minutes and you do not get to ask a question, but you get to glean from the answers. Just do you best, whatever it looks like. Focus on applauding that. There is no 'should of,' 'could of,' nor 'would of,' here. Appreciate what you brought to the table, how you brought it, and the plate you made to take home and eat later. It is not 100% all the time. It shouldn't be.


That's all I have for this post. Hope you can graduate. Or maybe you read this and your far from it. Maybe it will help you level up: that is like its own graduation too.


All the Best,


CLG


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