Sangeeta’s Graduation: A Journey into My Mind
By Sagun Basnet
“Yoo-hoo! Bravo!” I was screaming hard when Sangeeta received her graduation certificate for Master’s in Public Health degree at Johs Hopkins University. The feeling of attending a graduation ceremony to applaud for someone was brand new to me. Being present to cheer for her attainment overwhelmed me with such disparate feelings that I find it difficult to describe in letters and sentences. If only all the feelings could be expressed in one brush stroke!
When I started my journey from New York to Baltimore to attend
Sangeeta’s graduation ceremony, I never had the faintest idea that being a part of that ceremony would culminate in this write up. However, as an audience member, who was clapping for a friend’s graduation, I realized what it means
to our near ones to see us receive a degree and be recognized as having specialized in a subject. The very feeling of recognition and honor in front of
so many people, I guess, was the pivotal factor that overwhelmed everyone in that particular location.
I looked around me and saw that happiness ran as tears on the cheeks of so many people as they watched their loved ones receive a degree. A stream of thoughts ran over my mind as I saw the new graduates on the stage. It seemed as if the applause from the audience made them walk more confidently and increased the stretch of their lips.
A combination of smiling faces and wet eyes made me think: when human beings forget discriminating against others, and feel happy in the achievement of every other human being collectively, our body also responds by releasing smiles and tears, the two emotions usually associated with opposite feelings, at the same time. So I saw that so-called oppositions can exist simultaneously.
I also pondered over the dreams that the parents/ guardians/friends of the graduates, and the graduates themselves, must have had associated with the degree they received. At this point, I got an answer to the question I was asking myself about the relationship between a graduate degree and happiness. I was asking myself, why does a piece of paper with our names scripted as Masters of some discipline generate so much happiness in us and our near ones? Then, as the association of dreams to the degree came to my mind, I had the answer ready in front of me. The dreams of success, career, income, family, stability and the list goes on, that people associate with a degree make them so happy and so confident to face and build a future.
This fact is so evident, but interestingly I had never thought about it in this detail. However I said to myself, “Wait a moment.” The dreams are a part
of future which may or may not come true—what about the experiential earnings one gains from being with a variety of different people? And what about knowledge itself? Doesn’t the happiness in the face of the audience as well as the graduates have anything to do with learning? And my heart said “oh yes!”
I felt overwhelmed by the realization that gaining knowledge gives such bliss. However, the same realization also gave me a feeling that this is only a beginning of knowing and not an end. Applying the gained knowledge in the world of work will give deeper and further feelings of “graduating” through
so many experiences. Thus, suddenly a shift of perception occurred, which made me see that the huge ceremony actually celebrates the inception of a process of learning, not the end result of being fulfilled and satisfied. This was the aha! moment for me: to realize that I am not done but I have just started.