It has been one month since I graduated, it has flashed past in a second, especially with the busy life of being parents. This day was the day I had been dreaming about since the day I applied to go to university in 2012. Graduation was a celebration and recognition of all the hard work and commitment of being a university student.
After the most difficult night’s sleep with a baby, running on about 3 hours sleep, it was the morning of my Graduation. It was a morning of making sure everyone looked their best and with Zachary in his mini suit with a bow tie, and Justin in his matching grey suit – this was our little families’ first major celebration. I am so lucky that I had managed to pick up my Gown and Mortarboard the night before as my mum kindly drove me to go and get it! The mortarboard fit perfectly and the gown after being changed to one size smaller did too. I think I was the only person wearing flat shoes but the risk of me being clumsy and falling over was so high, I cut the risk factor down by over half.
I am so lucky that my siblings came to see me Graduate and I hope one day I might see them to if any of them decide to go to university. Maybe I might have inspired one of them!
One of the most special and significant places for Graduation was the location of the ceremony being Canterbury Cathedral, the magnificent building and sacred space which has been one of the first places I had the pleasure of seeing on a Candle Lit tour of Cathedral as a Fresher. The building is the beacon of hope standing tall beyond all the buildings in Canterbury, offering a place of comfort to me in the darkest times and sharing happiest memories with friends going on little tours of the building just admiring the beauty and religious significance and wonderful services of worship. At 12.30, it was the place where the ceremony of Graduation was held and it was a beautiful experience and a very sentimental farewell to my university experience. The best part was nervously but happily smiling walking down the aisle of the cathedral my scroll. It was the proudest achievement that I gained an Upper Second Class Degree award in B.A Religious Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University.
In my first year, on 25th January, My Dad committed suicide whilst I was at university which was heart breaking for me. Being affecting by a suicide also has brought immense sadness and grief. There was a gap in my graduation, the presence of my Dad. I believe that my Dad was watching me from the skies and gave us all a sunny afternoon to celebrate the happiness of the achievements. University has given me so many life experiences all of which have made me an independent and stronger person. Resilience and gaining strength from faith, as well as having a very supportive partner and friends helped me through being away from hope and helped me to deal with the grief in my own way. I am so thankful to all my family that I had the opportunity to go to university as my Mum and Dad both made me believe that education is truly the greatest opportunity and gift you can give to a person. This is something both Justin and I will pass on to our son, Zachary. I am so happy that this was our first real family event and it was amazing feeling to hold Zachary in my arms on my graduation day as He was a growing bump from December. I secretly hoped that he would be born before my graduation but it could have been either way as his due date was the 9th September, it was a running joke for a while after I found out the date of graduation, that knowing my luck I would probably end up giving birth on my Graduation day. Through my Individual study and exams, Zachary was my continued source of motivation. Justin helped me emotionally with the challenges and the joy of studying and made sure I was so looked after when I was going to university, often making me food and listening to me talk about Religious Studies all the time – He truly deserves a Gold medal for all his hard work which he put in.
Finally, I have grown in to a more confident and outgoing person, still a shy but more than I ever dreamed of when I applied I proved to myself that I could manage living over 200 miles away from home independently and fell in love with a place which will always have my heart for giving me everything I could have dreamed of and more. There is so much knowledge which I learnt at university but I really hope that I will be fortunate to continue my study into Religious Studies to a Masters level, maybe one day! For me, the most important thing which I learnt was how religions can affect our lives personally and Interfaith dialogue is crucial to building a peaceful and inclusive community in which we live in the world!
Lots of love, Emma xx