By: Katie Rush

This past weekend, as I lined up with my fellow Kent State graduates in the hallways of the convocation center to receive our well-earned diplomas (or really, an empty diploma booklet), I overheard two students joking about our December graduation. They both made comments about feeling slightly embarrassed that they were graduating “late”, and light-heartedly joked about celebrating graduation with a Long Island Iced Tea, rather than spiked hot apple cider.

Initially, I was frustrated by the comments because I didn’t want to think about my graduation in a negative way. Then, I was mildly sympathetic because I had allowed similar thoughts into my own mind prior to graduating. Finally, though, as I looked around and saw more than 2,000 other college graduates, I realized the most important thing: we got here.

Our graduation speaker, Andy Baskin, is a Kent State University alumni and Cleveland Sports Director. He began his speech by telling the graduates that he doesn’t remember a word of what his commencement speaker said on his graduation day, and he mentioned he did not attribute that to his age.

He went on to remind our graduating class that regardless of our graduation date, or the time it took us to get to commencement day, we would all be doing ourselves a disservice if we did not celebrate our journeys and the struggles we faced to walk across the stage. He also spoke about his successes from his education at Kent State, telling us that true confidence in ourselves is what will aid in our own success.

He also reminded us that we graduated the same year the Cavs won a championship, so what is there to complain about, really?

If I had to give advice to anyone graduating “late”, I would always remind them to own the challenges they faced to get to graduation day. I would remind them to be proud of the extra time spent, and ask them if the extra time was needed to get themselves to the place they need to be. If someone were to ask me that question, my answer would be yes.

Did you take an extra semester to get to graduation? What advice would you want someone to give you?