My Graduation

by Sarah Luna

I graduated from Texas A&M with a BS in Nutritional Sciences on May 14, 2010. There were a lot of memorable moments (and some wonderful surprises) that I want to share with my family and friends who could not be there.

Wednesday

Gran and Grandpa arrived Wednesday afternoon and took me out to Blue Baker for dinner. After catching up and eating, Gran couldn’t wait anymore to give me my gifts. The first was a beautiful jewelry box that they had bought in Ireland four years ago. It has the Claddagh symbol on the lid that matches the ring I bought when I was Ireland with them. She also gave me gold chain with eight fresh water pearls that I wore in many of my graduation pictures.

My parents arrived super late that night. While I was excited to see them, it was sad just seeing them in the car without Sam. I wanted my brother there, too, but I knew he was back in California taking AP exams. We start turning the corner to eat a late night dinner at Whataburger. Suddenly my dad points: “Hey! Look at that hitchhiker! Let’s pick him up!” Well, the story is much funnier when he tells it, but suffice it to say that I was freaking out when he not only sidled up to the strange man but rolled down my window, too. But it was Sam! So happy to see my brother!

Thursday

That afternoon we went to the Honors Recognition Ceremony at the Hilton Hotel. Here the Honors Office recognized everyone who graduated with above a 3.5 GPA. We all dressed up and headed to the hotel. As I look for my grandparents in the lobby, I suddenly spot another surprise. Drew steps out from behind a table and gives me a hug! Now Drew also couldn’t come to my graduation because his sister was graduating from Texas Tech in Lubbock the day after I graduated. I was heartbroken when he told me he could not attend. I even Google mapped the distance from his house to College Station to Lubbock. For him to come, he would have to drive four hours to College Station and then immediately drive seven hours to Lubbock. Once I saw the map, I was defeated. It was nearly as bad as Sam not being able to come.

But he was there! Thank you, Drew! And thank you, Drew’s Mama, for letting him come!

The ceremony itself was quite nice. I was presented with University Honors, Foundation Honors, and Fellows Honors. The first two simply come from taking a certain number of honors courses, but Fellows Honors involves completing a thesis with a faculty mentor. I wrote two theses over two years–one on the Camino de Santiago and one on the effects of partial gravity on bone. I received a gold stole with three patches to wear during graduation.

Uncle Mando and Aunt Darcy arrived shortly after and just in time to see General David Petraeus speak at Convocation. It made me so happy that they could come. The general was cool, too. We all went out to Texas Roadhouse for dinner after.


Friday

Graduation Day! It rained! Visual for those who weren’t there: I straightened my hair and wore my black dress with my coral China pearls. All graduates were directed into the depths of Reed Arena to be organized. Once we stepped out on the floor, I looked up to 12,500 people all cheering and whooping for us. Then I spotted my family in the first row of section 102. They had been staked out since noon for those seats and were in the perfect position to heckle me as I prepared to cross the stage. When my row was escorted to the podium, I walked right under 102 and ran the gauntlet of camera flashes. Then I caught Drew’s eye. With a mischievous grin, he lifts up a cowbell. By then I couldn’t hold in the laughter. I’m pretty sure the rest of the line thought I had snapped. The walk across the stage took hardly any time at all. I heard my name, walked up to President Loftin, received my diploma, and shook hands. Once off the stage, my roommate Rebeca ran up to hug me. We finally did it.

All the families met back at our house for dinner and visiting. Sarah and Matt came, too! I said goodbye to Drew who then had to drive seven hours in the Texas rain (he made it safely), and he presented me with the infamous cowbell along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I also said goodbye to Uncle Mando and Aunt Darcy who were flying back to San Jose. It was so wonderful to see them again. I have the most loving family!

Hall

Yes, it deserves its own section. Lara, Alicia, Jamie, Rebeca, Tony, Ben, and I dragged our families out to the Texas Hall of Fame for a night of country western dancing. That’s right. At first it was a little slow getting all the parents and relatives out on the floor. But then Lara had a surprise. A little after 9, the DJ announces: “This isn’t the kind of music we usually play here, but we had a special request.”  Drums. And then the pulse-raising, awe-inspiring sound of voices lifted in celebration: “Wavin’ Flag”. The official song of the 2010 World Cup…if you haven’t heard it watch this…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8__lUfx7zdo&feature=related. And even though it was just Lara, Jamie, Rebe and me out on the floor, we got the party started.

We had an awesome time teaching all the families to dance. Lara and Tony and Jamie and Ben showed off their fancy Wranglers’ moves. Sam learned the two-step pretty quickly. Mom and Gran danced along to the Copperhead Road, Cotton Eyed Joe, and one other line dance that I don’t know the name for.

Anthony, I’m really sad you weren’t there. They played a waltz, and I wish you were there.  Ha, they also played “Baby Got Back” and I remembered the cha cha we did to it.

Saturday was simply family time taking pictures down at the George Bush Presidential Library. I had such a beautiful time with my family and friends. It was wonderful to have everyone and to share my experiences over the past four years.

Thank you so much, family and friends, for helping me through these four years! I couldn’t have done it on my own!

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