Five long years at the University of Waterloo have finally come to a close. Convocation for us freshly graduated engineers was held on a cool but sunny Saturday morning in June. I shall cherish all the unforgettable once in a lifetime milestone moments with my friends, and especially with my family.
I awoke that day at 7:00 AM a little hungover from last evening’s mini reunion. I was out the door eventually, force fed myself a few bites of typical diner breakfast, downed a black coffee, and proceeded to the Physical Activity Centre (PAC) on the iXpress to pick up my gown. That was also the last time I used my WatCard to get on a GRT bus.
Short on time, I quickly changed into my formal clothes in the locker room and rushed over to join my eager peers in line backstage. We exchanged nervous handshakes and hugs and talked about our future plans with terrific optimism. Before long, the sliding doors opened at 10 AM revealing the ceremony stage as well as our seats flanked by rows and rows of proud parents. We filed out neatly, and we were all ready to be conferred with our hard-earned degrees.
Halfway through the ceremony, our row was finally called up to prepare ourselves next to the stage where we were asked to hold on to our bright red gown hoods. As the Environmental Engineering Class of 2012 was announced, we replied with an emphatic cheer and walked with pride in threes across the stage. Despite our small class size, I’m certain everyone in PAC heard our voices.
When my name was called the first thing I thought to myself was, “Good, my name was pronounced correctly.” And then I thought, “Don’t fucking trip now, Justin.” I walked purposefully towards the president of our university to shake his hand and to have my hood adorned over my shoulders. I remember thanking him non-stop, we engaged in small talk about my graduate school plans, and then he sent me off with well wishes and an inspiring smile.
I exhaled with relief and felt a starry-eyed sense of accomplishment once I stepped off stage. I was presented with my diploma around the corner, posed for pictures, and swiftly strode back to my seat among my fellow graduates. Hands still trembling I flipped open the cover which revealed my diploma to me for the first time. That moment has been firmly ingrained into my memory.
A few speeches later convocation was adjourned, the live band started up again, and we filed out of PAC as the University of Waterloo’s newest alumni. I was pretty giddy with excitement and dashed out to look for my dad, mom, sister, uncle, and aunt. Out in glowing sunshine we met each other’s families, and smiled for more pictures of course! It was a beautiful day for a beautiful occasion.
Countless pints and shots later at uptown’s Huether Hotel, all the bittersweetness ended at three in the morning. With only nostalgia for company, I walked back to campus and roamed UW for a final time. Yes, including the CIVE lab.