How did the last four years fly by so quickly? Who let that happen?
I arrived in August 2014, checked in at the ITT, then somehow I was returning to the same indoor track to be handed my diploma. Well, not my diploma, but someone else’s. Read about the Diploma Circle, another of Smith’s many traditions.
I knew my senior year would go at warp speed, but I never actually anticipated it ending. As my final semester approached, everything become a “last.” The last first day of classes, the last snow day, the last spring break, senior ball, athletic banquet, reading period, and BAM. It was over.
I knew that the weekend of commencement would be gut-wrenching. Sure, it’s fun to have everyone’s family in one place, but that’s not what daily college life was like.
Everyone was going out to eat at different restaurants, attending different receptions, and busy packing their belongings into cars and boxes. These aren’t the glory days; those are over.
For a moment, I laid down on our stiff couch and closed my eyes. I felt like I was awaiting Sally’s return from class with the iconic jingling of her keys or waiting for ringing of my alarm to alert me that I would be late for practice.
My mother arrived Friday for lunch and stayed in our apartment all weekend. Friends’ families slowly trickled in, and it already was the end of an era. We went through all of the senior traditions, but everything was too bittersweet to be savored.
Saturday was Ivy Day, a day to commemorate the generations of Smith alumnae and the connection between the college and its graduates. We all dressed in white and held our roses. I teared up many times due to my emotional state, but I couldn’t let the tears fall past my once-a-year-mascara-ed eyes.
Though we parted our ways, we all ended up in the apartment at the end of the day. It was unusually sad and unwelcoming. The evening activity was Illumination Night during which all seniors carried a candle and watched, in the rain, as the “Smith 2018” sign was lit on the athletic fields. I’m not quite sure what it symbolizes, but I didn’t want to miss out.
Sunday was the big day; the big, sad day. Those of us on the Crew team wore our unis under our gowns as we walked to the ITT. (Commencement was indoors despite the rain not starting under long after the ceremony was over, can you sense my lack of enthusiasm?)
I sweated all the way there and throughout the long, but enchanting ceremony. Our Commencement Speaker was Rita Dove who served as Poet Laureate in the early 90s. Her address was so very good; I’d recommend giving it a listen.
Suddenly, my row was standing up, walking toward the stage. Then my name was called, and I felt like I ran across the stage with no control over my facial expressions or posture. My heart was racing as I made the move from being a Smith student to a Smith graduate.
The ceremony ended, and we went through the long process of the Diploma Circle. Then, out of the gym and into the sea of Smith families. I’ve never seen so many people in one place at Smith before. I struggled to find mine and took photos with every combination of friend and family possible.
The sad day went on. I got ice cream at my favorite, Mt Tom Ice Cream. The rest of the day was spent in the apartment I wasted so much time in. We had food and a small party with all of our families and friends, but I couldn’t help but feel empty. I’m so grateful for the experiences that Smith has afforded me, but it seemed to end so abruptly.
Monday, our final day, was spent packing cars and crying as we hugged each other goodbye indefinitely. There is no see-you-next-Fall, there is no going home to each other at the end of the day. I met my three best friends over three years ago thanks to this institution, and I wish that every other Smith student can be as lucky as I feel.
I have so many exciting things to look forward to, but I can’t help but reflect right now.