YOU GRADUATED! CONGRATULATIONS!
Recently, my timeline has been filled with photos of young people wearing their graduation robes with pride. Most of the time, the people I follow compliment them, cheer them on and give them the fuss it deserves, and then there are a few people who like to talk it down.
I am here to tell you that it is amazing that you have made it this far.
I remember my time studying. It is in those few years after high school where most people get an idea of what adulthood will be like (you’re wrong, but let’s continue). If you were anything like me, you grew up in a sheltered home, with overprotective parents and then suddenly, you’re at campus and you can do whatever you’d like. People are drinking, drugging, partying and no one gives a shit.
So, you screw around, fail a course and realise it costs R5000+ to repeat. So you start taking it seriously.
At the time, those four years seemed like the hardest four years of my life. I was an A+ student at school, my name is inscribed in the hall of my old high school, but it didn’t mean anything, because in engineering, it is likely that every single person you meet has their name up at their old high school.
This also means that we were not used to failing. On day one, a lecturer told us to look at the two people sitting on either side of us. He waited, and we smiled awkwardly at the strangers on our left and right, eager to make friends in this new environment, and then he continued,
“Only one of you will graduate in four years”
I can almost remember the anxiety creeping up my spine. The two people sitting next to me were just as smart, if not smarter… He must have been exaggerating, using scare tactics on gullible first years.
He wasn’t. Whether you failed a course and that set you behind by a year, dropped out because engineering was too hard OR too boring, it was true that only about one out of three made it through in four years.
You may have taken the scenic route and graduated after five years, six, even seven years. You need to celebrate this. You made it! You gained knowledge and fought to understand something that often felt impossible to understand.
With the universe watching out for me, I met Miks (Le Husb) at the end of my second year, just when I needed to. We went into third year dating, we came out of fourth year engaged and five days after graduation, we got married.
Be proud. Be loud. You got this. For some of you, like me, you’re the first one in your family to graduate, HOW IS THAT NOT A BIG DEAL?
My parents could only dream of university, and had it not been for a bursary, maybe I’d have had to dream it up too. How dare you belittle someone else’s achievements when you have no idea what it took to get there?
FLOURISH BBZ and best of luck for the future.
Shameez Patel Papathanasiou