This year will be the first in-person CSUDH Commencement Ceremony since 2019. Photo by: CSUDH.smugmug.com (CSUDH Photo Archive).
By Ben Verbrugge. Staff Reporter.
I am counting down the days until I can finally throw away the notepad I have been using since 2016 when my higher education journey began. Over the years I have torn out the pages from previous courses once they are completed and stored them in a drawer. Only about 25 pieces of paper remain. It should be just enough to get me by until I graduate in May. Even though I have been waiting for this day, I will not be crossing the stage in graduation, because instead of walking alongside the cardinal and gold, I will be attending CSU Chico’s Commencement Ceremony
My notepad has sat through hours of lectures at Arizona State University, El Camino College, and California State University, Dominguez Hills. Several semesters of Zoom class, three different campuses, and four majors later, I am extremely relieved that the finish line is within sight because my notepad has been through a lot.
I never knew whether or not the goal of walking at graduation and receiving my diploma would ever come to fruition. Now that it is finally here, I do not even have the desire to attend the ceremony. In a way, it just feels like another thing that I would have to do, and not actually WANT to do. Besides, my notebook will most likely be out of pages by then.
My only sister is graduating after enrolling full-time at California State University, Chico in 2018. She has battled through the pandemic and the unknown that surrounded the education system in order to receive her degree in four years.
In a way I guess I have to graduate this semester. I can’t let my little sister beat me after I have had a three year head start.
At first, I wanted to get away from Southern California so I moved to Tempe Arizona to pursue my degree. Arizona was a familiar place, my mother, as well as a number of my other family members, also went to ASU.
After a couple of semesters, I was homesick and decided I needed a break from school. I came back home and started working full-time.
Semester after semester would pass by and little by little the urge to return and accomplish my original goal returned. Now nearing the end of my final semester, I feel like I am graduating from a bunch of different places, while the culmination of all of these experiences will lead to this one final achievement.
I feel like I spent an equal amount of time on each of the three campuses I have been a part of, so graduating from CSUDH specifically is exciting yet I am not attached to the idea of walking on its stage. After leaving ASU, El Camino was my home for a while as I transitioned back into life as a student. This is where I rediscovered my educational path and I enjoyed showing up to class again.
Even though I am a Toro, the things that I have learned from ASU and ECC have propelled me to see this through.
Without my family, I would not be this close to graduating and it seems fitting to go to my sister’s ceremony and celebrate with her, my parents, and other relatives. Our commencement is on the same weekend.
My path to a diploma has been somewhat nomadic and it is hard to call one University my home over another. My degree will say Cal State University, Dominguez Hills, but the other two have also guided me along the way.
I will always cherish my time at CSUDH, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic I was slightly more distanced during my time here, and only spent part of my last semester on campus. Instead of fully integrating myself into the Toro community, I was more focused on the ultimate goal of finishing my bachelor’s.
I will not be holding on to what remains of my notebook at the end of this semester, but getting rid of it will signify the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I respect and applaud those who are excited to celebrate their accomplishments and walk at graduation but getting through the last remaining pages of my notebook will be ceremonial enough for me.