Graduation day has come and gone, and I have to be honest, it was every bit as awesome as I dreamed. Since I started my Ph.D program six years ago, graduation day has been a warm and welcome thought, a day much anticpated. But for the past three years, as graduate school got signiciantly harder, graduation day has been the thing getting me through the tough moments. When things got rough, I thought of graduation. When I doubted whether I could get through this degree, I closed my eyes tight and imagined graduation. During the emotional and self-doubting moments, I imagined myself surrounded by friends and family, walking across the stage, breathing a huge sigh of relief. So to have the moment I've dreamed about for so long become a reality...well, it was amazing.
If you follow me on Facebook, you've already seen a sneak peak of the big day, but if not, here are more pictures than you could probably ever want to see :)
Fancy gown, check. Much coveted hood, check. Piece of paper proving I really did it, check!
It's pretty impossible to locate me in this picture, but I'm in the second row, near the top. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep it together on graduation day; I was certain I'd be a big bawling mess. So when we walked out into the arena, with Pomp and Circumstance playing, I let myself get swept up in the moment, waving wildly to my family and friends, and of course, shedding a few tears. It was that magical moment I've been dreaming of for so long!
Matt snapped this picture from crazy far away, so its a bit hard to see, but this is me being hooded by my chair, Dr. Castillo. I have been so blessed to have such an amazing advisor. She embraces "girlpower" in every sense of the word, empowering her students to go out there and kick some major ass!
Blurry but oh so thrilled. In my best Elle Woods voice, "I did it!"
I finally earned those three little initials I've been working so hard for!
The only thing better than achieving a life long dream is having your family there to celebrate the moment with you. I'm so grateful for my incredible support system; I never could have done this alone.
My amazing aunt and uncle flew in from Atlanta for the weekend. They're crazy fun and always up for a celebration!
My little brother, a constant source of encouragement and inspiration.
Four of my favorite Ph.Ds! I would not have survived graduate school without these people. (PS: You can see pictures from Matt and Miguel's graduation last year here.)
Despite crazy busy calendars, my brother and sister drove down from Dallas to watch me cross the stage. They had to head right back after the ceremony, but it meant so much to share this special day with them.
My best friend Steven and his boyfriend, Jesse, also drove in for the big day. Steven and I have been friends since high school, and he never fails to recognize the little things in life. He has definitely been one of my biggest cheerleaders throughout this crazy journey!
Matt's parents also flew in from Arizona to celebrate, reminding me how lucky I am to have such thoughtful in-laws.
My dear friend, Norma, one of the best sounding boards and voices of reason I know. But not too reasonable that she can't grab a glass of wine and complain about ridiculous graduate school woes :)
My lifetime cheerleaders. Without these three people, I would never have survived or even dreamed this journey. They are unfailingly supportive, and I am beyond blessed to have such an amazing family.
My man, my rock. It is crazy to think that when we started graduate school six years ago, we didn't know each other, and now, as I finish graduate school, I can't imagine my life without him. He is without a doubt, my greatest graduate school discovery :)
I dont' think words can ever express how much these people mean to me. I think I said it best in my dissertation dedication, which you can read here. They are the reason I got this far!
And for a little Instagram action, a quick snap right before the ceremony!
So there you have it, more graduation pictures than you could ever care to see! After graduation, we headed back to Houston where my parents threw me a rockin' graduation party. (Read: personalized napkins/cups/plates, yard signs, a full Tex-Mex spread, and a margarita machine!) One of my parents' neighbors asked me at the party if I felt different. I think at the time I said "not really," but as I've thought about that question the past few days, I think I do feel a little different. And its not just the extra initials after my name(though those are pretty cool), but its the realization that I did it. I pushed through all the obstacles and self-doubt and did something I've dreamed of for a long time. I put my mind to something crazy hard and did it. And for that, I'm really proud of myself. So this week, I'm walking a bit taller, knowing that with the support of friends and family, I endured six tough years to reach my dream. And that, is pretty cool.
*A special thanks to all my readers who have encouraged me along the way. From comps, to dissertation drama, to internship stress, yall were cheerleaders each and every step. Your comments, emails, and Facebook posts mean more than you know. You rock beyond belief!