It is official, the Ohio State University College of Optometry Class of 20/20 has graduated! We are optometrists and alumni rather than students! May 3 we had our virtual graduation ceremony, which exceeded my expectations. I must admit that when I first heard about the virtual graduation, I was upset because I thought it would mean it was less likely we would have an in-person graduation. Fortunately, Dean Zadnik and President Drake are still committed to their promises to host in-person graduation festivities in the future. So the way I see it, this weekend was graduation part 1.
Just like a wedding, when nothing goes according to plan, it is important to remember that the only thing that really matters is actually getting married. Well, nothing went according to plan for our graduation but the important thing is, we still graduated. The moment President Drake officially granted us our degrees was still the moment we all became doctors. I spent that moment with my husband in our living room, and I am thankful for the memory. I feel like we earned that degree together, and he deserved to share in that moment by my side rather than far away on the bleachers as it would have been. He packed many meals, talked me through many emotions, took care of literally everything around our house, financially supported me, and was my constant source of support all the way through this journey. It seems like just yesterday we both decided to change careers, and we finally made it! We went from -ers to -ists (teacher and police officer to optometrist and chemist)!
So how did we celebrate graduation? Creatively! I have so much enjoyed seeing all the creative graduation celebrations for my classmates via social media. Some people had ordered their regalia, while others donned regalia from previous graduations to at least look the part. Graduation celebrations took the form of drive-by parties, driveway parties, social distancing selfies, virtual gatherings, and lots of pictures.
I decided last minute to celebrate with my family, and I am so glad I did. I gave my mom only a few hours’ notice, and she managed to throw together some decorations and have a wonderful patio party! I pulled up to my parents’ house, and my mom had tied balloons to the mailbox, put up class of 2020 signs and was dancing to Hang on Sloopy as I pulled in. I absolutely loved it! I also received some incredible gifts like a beautiful bracelet shaped like glasses, an optometrist Barbie, and many heart-felt notes. One of my favorite gifts, though, was a buckeye sapling my dad pulled out of the woods as I was leaving their house. I know tree analogies are cliché, but I could not help but realize the symbolism. So forgive me for the next cliché’ paragraph….
My dad handing me the buckeye tree made me realize the transition we are all experiencing right now. This weekend we went from student to doctor. I am only just beginning the next 30+ years of my career.
I planted it first thing and have been watering it diligently ever since. I hope to watch that buckeye tree grow just as my career grows. It is of course up to me now to ensure that both succeed. Just like the tree, I am ready to start putting down roots in a community and watch families grow up through a private practice. I can already imagine the day I stand beside that tree and look back thinking, “Where did the time go?” These past four years have been the fastest four years of my life and this is only just the beginning of this exciting career. I am so ready for this journey! I am also looking forward to graduation part 2 someday!