Graduation is a big deal! Well I did not realise this until I made my way to the monumental Great Hall. The road has been long, and I think any graduate would agree.
GRADUATION is a big deal right? Well it did not hit me until I found myself fixing my gown ahead of my graduation last week. My nerves were shot and I could not understand why. I had told myself all week that I was not going to let my anxiety overwhelm me.
As I sat in my seat, I was surrounded by other graduates who, like myself, were all waiting for the ceremony to start. Our moment was captured by the urgent need to find a pen to fill in forms for stage photographs. My cluttered mind drifted off. I started to think about the popular phrase used by Wits graduates in particular, “The Road to Great Hall”.
I thought about my journey and how long this road was. Whenever I complained about the “Wits edge”, my grandmother never missed a chance to remind me that I brought myself to University. “You took a taxi all by yourself, without anyone holding your hand. You found your way to campus, without anyone having to give you directions. You registered, called me and told me that the process was successful. Now finish what you’ve started,” is the exact same song she sang to me throughout my undergraduate degree.
She was right. When matric results were released there were celebrations going on around me but I was anxious about my future. I did not know where I was going to go and what my future held. My plan was simple: run to the army until I figured things out. I could not afford film school. Thinking about the financial demands was excruciating, bearing in mind that my single mother had been fighting like a warrior to keep my sister and myself on the battlefield of life.
I received an SMS from Wits offering me a place to study towards a Bachelor of Arts degree. I just saw “Arts” and I jumped for joy not knowing what I was in for. I accepted the offer without hesitation.
There I was sitting three years later, wearing a heavy black gown in the monumental Great Hall. Looking at the sentimental moments around me, the atmosphere made me even more nervous than my first day at varsity. I reflected on my life before and after the Great Hall. I remembered the sacrifices made, the failures and the successes. My heart could not help but laugh at how much of a pain Turnitin was, but it was all worth it.
The preparations started two days before the ceremony. “This is more stressful then getting my degree,” is what kept running through my mind. As soon as I got onto the stage, everything disappeared. I had kept my eye on the goal. I walked in the footsteps of great intellectuals, leaders and people who all had their own journey, but I conquered the edge against all odds.
Now I can sit back and say that the road to the Great Hall has had many potholes, but in the end by the grace of the academic gods, I can proudly say and will shout – I conquered the Wits edge and I finished what I started!