Graduation was kind of a whirlwind. With finals officially over last Wednesday there was lots to celebrate and everyone was attempting to get in plenty of time with friends before heading our separate ways. Only a little sleep, lots of food, and a go-go-go schedule kind of sums it up for everyone.
My family (including my brother who flew in from California) got into town on Thursday night and I met them for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Soby's. It was pouring down rain so downtown didn't look quite as picturesque as usual but our meal and the company definitely helped to make up for that.
On Friday morning my family came over to my apartment on campus so that I could then show my brother and grandfather around campus since they had never been to Furman before and we figured they could get a better idea of the layout when campus wasn't as crowded as it would be on Saturday. After that it was off to show them my new apartment and then for a festive Cinco de Mayo lunch at Cantina 76 (my favorite Mexican restaurant). After lunch we went our separate ways so that I could shower and head over to graduation practice prior to the dinner we had planned. Graduation practice lasted about an hour and a half which gave me enough time to head back to my apartment and get ready before our dinner. On Friday night we went to Hall's Chophouse which was delicious! My mom and I had gone to Hall's in Charleston when I was on my college search and it was every bit as wonderful as we had remembered. They brought me champagne for graduating and the service was hard to beat. After that I had a graduation party to attend with my friends at a bar downtown. I stayed for a while and the band was SO fun. I went back to Furman to attempt to get a little bit of sleep before the big day.
Saturday morning started with getting ready to go to baccalaureate. The weather was chilly but sunny which was reassuring although graduation did have to be inside due to the weather that evening which was a bummer. We only got 2 tickets for baccalaureate so my mom and dad came along leaving my grandparents and brother with permission to explore on their own. After the service which lasted about an hour there was a big lunch set up on the lawn and we were able to snap some pictures. After that we took another load of stuff to my new apartment, took measurements for curtains etc, and went downtown to eat an oddly timed 3 o'clock meal since graduation cut into dinner time. I left my parents at their hotel and went back to campus to hang out with my roommates before getting ready and heading to the ceremony. We were all pretty bummed that it had to be inside since that meant we didn't get to walk down the mall or enjoy the backdrop of the chapel and Paris Mountain while receiving our diplomas.
The ceremony (although long) was very well done. I like that everyone graduates at once and it isn't split up like graduation can be at some schools. The student body and faculty get to vote on a student speaker and everyone was a bit surprised by the guy who won. Even as he began his speech he mentioned that the program writers asked him to send a short bio and when he sent it over to them they emailed back that he forgot his academic accomplishments to which he responded "no I didn't." That type of humor was mixed into his amazing speech which I highly recommend you reading here. He did a great job of explaining the challenges we faced daily at Furman while relating the whole speech to boxing and explaining why our Furman education is allowing us to come out with a "W." After the ceremony was over we all couldn't stop talking about just how funny, encouraging, and relatable the whole speech was. He ended his speech with "We're ready for the next step. Class of 2017, this round is over, but tomorrow the next round starts. Keep your hands up and your elbows in, catch life off balance, and start swinging." Knowing the go-getters I graduated with I have no doubt that most of them already have started swinging.
After our diplomas were in tow and I gave my family a hug it was back to our apartment to change, pop a bottle of champagne (thanks, mom!), and head to a party Furman put on for the graduates and their families at the baseball stadium downtown. It was fun to see friends and enjoy a little bit more time together before we had to pack up to ensure we were out of our apartments by 1:00 the next day.
If I am being honest, graduation was a lot harder than I expected. There isn't that much closure since you're attempting to balance time with friends and family and before you know it everyone is off on their separate ways. Fortunately, homecoming is huge at Furman and most alumni choose to come back for it so I knew that in most cases it wasn't actually goodbye. Not only were we saying bye to our home but also the place we've gotten to live for the past four years. Since Furman has us live on campus all four years it was a hard realization for me that I was officially going to be in my own place that didn't back up to the park that Furman tends to be as our own personal backyard. Having graduate classes at Furman will be a good transition but I'll be more of a visitor since I'll only be there occasionally and won't be spending the night in North Village anymore. Graduating will definitely come with its fair share of adjustments.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for a little bit more about graduation and congratulations to all of you graduating this month! In the words of Elle Woods "we did it!"