Commencement 2006

This is the first time I’ve reached an important milestone and it just crept up on me. Tomorrow morning friends and family will join me to celebrate my Masters Degree. Before I thought about graduate school, I never thought I’d be at a place like Stanford. Schools like Stanford were for really really smart people, the over-achievers, the perfectionists, and people who had never failed. I remember the voice mail informing me about my acceptance Spring of 2004. I was on cloud nine for months before I came here. A month into my program, I realized I embarked on one of the hardest journeys of my life. The past two years has been two of the most difficult and stressful years of my life. A few months ago, I felt like I was drowning in this academic lifestyle. Just as I was about to give up, I realized that I qualified for my masters. In a way it seems anti-climatic. I am not done with my work, I still have to haul ass to qualify for candidacy. I still have to prove that I can write a dissertation, I still have to prove I can adjust to the culture and workload here. But, I have something that they can’t take away now. I can walk away from this university, take my knowledge and teach students in community colleges. I can change careers. I can say I took advantage of an opportunity and worked hard to get this piece of paper that says I have mastered something.
For years I felt like I started a lot of things and finished few. But when I recount my little journey, I am beginning to think I’ve managed to set out an extraordinary journey. Sometimes this climb seems endless and most days are tedious. I’m not done yet, but I passed this milestone. I’ve gained wisdom and set an example for those to come after me. Importantly, I rediscovered what was important to me. Through all the pomp and ceremony, I have to remind myself that this degree does not make me better or smarter than anyone else. Instead, it affords me certain opportunities and carries responsiblities to the communities that I belong to. From this point on, I will commence to work my hardest to fulfill the role that God has intended for me to play in this world. I don’t have a clear idea what that is, my path unfolds with each step I take. I have to keep striving fisabillah. Perhaps I will feel different tomorrow, perhaps it will sink in at the black graduation ceremony. Perhaps this weekend will rejuvenate me and I will feel more at peace with my struggles in this institution and that peace may give me comfort to face the challenges on the road to a doctorate.

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