Never in my life would I have imagined the significance of May 20th, 2023. Sure, it’s the same
week as my birthday, May 14th, but it’s also the date of the biggest accomplishment of my life:
graduating from college.
It’s something that still feels surreal to me. Yeah, I knew I would get it done, but to consider the
hardships faced, the long nights put in, and the sacrifices made, it makes it even more special.
That’s why in my Instagram bio, I made sure I put “Marquette ALUM,” because that alumni
status hits a little different when you’ve been through some stuff.
If you asked me about college when I was a sophomore in high school, I would have looked at
you like you were crazy. I always knew I was a good student, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able
to handle the college lifestyle and the work that comes with it. However, joining programs like
Chicago Scholars and College Possible made me realize that college was the place for me and
gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams.
When the week of May 20th approached, it was a week full of celebration and glory, but also a
time for reflecting as well. A time to reflect on how far I’ve come, who I am now and who I was
before. A lot has happened since August of 2019 when I first arrived on campus. And it all led to
me being who I am today. While I wish the events I’ve seen during my college years didn’t
cause so much chaos, I feel like those moments helped me grow and see things in a different
And to say I was able to accomplish everything I wanted through everything I’ve experienced is
what makes graduating mean so much to me.
Being a Black, first-generation college student from Chicago isn’t easy. Going into a
predominantly white institution (PWI) like Marquette and having to adjust from the areas I was
so accustomed to growing up wasn’t easy. No matter how much preparation you get, you’re still
going to experience the tough ends of being in college. But through the trials and tribulations,
the reason I went through it all finally came to light on May 20th.
As I crossed the stage at Fiserv Forum, my friends and I couldn’t keep our emotions together,
cheering as we watched our other friends cross the stage. We even joined each other's
Instagram live despite us literally standing next to one another. Yes, we were that ecstatic.
If I said graduating college would be easy, I’d be lying. Yet, that relieving feeling of crossing the
stage, seeing my friends and family happy, and knowing all this work resulted in something,
made it all worth the while. Thank you, Marquette, for making me realize the reason why I went
through it all in the first place.