I remember waking up at 5.45 am, thinking that today is the day. My graduation aka convocation day. Its 21st May 2013 and outside, the sky was drizzling down with rain. We set for the destination at 6.35, arriving 25 minutes later with my handbag filled with snacks for the long wait. Just as we got at the venue, it rained heavily.
Bid my parents goodbye around 7.30 as they headed for the parents' entrance while I head to the graduates' area with the heavy robe over my arm, and the mortar board and hood in a plastic bag. With clumsy fingers I slipped on the robe. A dark blue with gold embroidery over the lapels and a band around the sleeves. The latter signifies me being a degree graduate, where the diploma graduate's robe would have plain sleeves.
With slight hesitation, I put on the hood, securing it to the front part of my robe before asking a friend to secure it at the back. Its black with golden lapels. The gold signified that I'm from the Faculty of Computer Science and Mathematical Sciences.
Graduates trickled into the waiting area, getting ready with the help of their fellow classmates. I watched as a guy secured the back of the hood of his friend's, while the friend made sure another guy's robe was smoothed down properly.
A lady on the committee asked for the number beside my name. 165, out of 800-ish people that day, all from my faculty. She handed me a card where my full name was printed. Three asterisks beside it, with a notation underneath.
Vice Chancellor Award.
She hands me a heavy bundle. The much awaited pink sash. I see some people stare, some with envy. Apparently there will be 62 of this sash worn today. The air was filled with anticipation. Music started playing and everyone lined up according to their number.
And the grand entrance.
It was my turn an hour into the ceremony, receiving from the uni's Vice Chancellor himself.
We lined up, and entered. Our names read out by the emcee. The reciepients of the VC award and first class have those announced with their name. 15 seconds of fame. End.
And after that, I spent the time eating a bar of Snickers, reading and oohing and clapping at the right moments. At the last person's name, the emcee stressed the "and" part and the whole hall clapped and cheered loudly.
Its so shiny. Don't be fool, its empty as you will only receive your degree after you send back the robes.
The hall. This is after my turn. See, the golden lapels on the hood. Its a very very big hall.
After the ceremony, with Mama and Dad outside.
And the sash. I didn't want to hand it back with the robes. Its pretty heavy and feels a bit constricted under the whole ensemble.
I want to say thank you to my parents, for always believing in me and telling me that I'm smarter than I think. Who knew that if I tell them "Oh, it was okay" for a paper, that I actually meant I have a chance of getting an A. For always putting my education first. For their sacrifices. For their lessons. For everything.
I want to thank the people who were there for me to bitch to. Who gave me their support. And of course, for their blind confidence in me when I feel (dramatic) that I will fail a subject. And the "I told you so" when I received an A for that subject I was so sure I'll pass by the skin of my teeth.
For the classmates who helped me by, explaining the concepts I didn't get. For the ones who trusted me enough to ask me to teach them before the finals. You have indeed, helped me study in an indirect manner by explaining and teaching.
And of course, that sash is proof against the negative whispers. Against those jealousy. Against the insecurity. It doesn't mean I'll be a high achiever forever but it will remind me, in future dark days that I'm not a failure. And yes, it will always be one of life's proudest moments for me.
For I was once a smart student who fell from grace. Who some thought as hopeless. And I showed them that, success that comes after disgrace is way sweeter. For a phoenix that rise from ashes, burn so bright.