Life often defines the fruit of our destination with the seeds planted by our journey. It is life that allows us to capture our moments and make us the captain of our own ships. Experiences, people and moments is the journey that builds us and prepares us for the destination. These lessons tend to make us the author of our own novels and the director of our own films. The destination was UMBC commencement '13 at 1st Mariner Arena. I will explain the journey here.
From the UMBC bookstore to UMBC Phonathon I realized that my journey was never about just my sole accomplishments, but building the UMBC name and adding to its pride. Whether it was book watch for the bookstore, painting rooms for the Commons, completing work orders for Residential Life or assisting in many, many, many, many Mic Checks (yes capitalized) I found myself in the company of awesome and intellectually strong people that supported me in many ways than one. My challenges that seemed so daunting became lessons for future ventures. I found myself meeting people from all walks of life and different experiences with goals and dreams ranging from friends made with the Momma's Boys, SEB, the billiard pros who frequented the Gameroom or the welcoming friendliness of Greek Life.
In the last days of my undergrad career at UMBC, I was invited to the Black and Latino Alumni brunch at the Rusty Scupper down by the Inner Harbor. Subsequently, I met alums who went before me with careers and their own fulfilled chapters in their book of lives. I began to finally see that while the destination was important, the journey was the most important part in this process. I learned that during my knockdowns and setbacks, these troubles were not to dismay me or dishearten my journey, but to make me stronger to reach my goals. I realized that the alumni brunch I was at exemplified unity and a shared value which was rich in education, knowledge, and life experience.
When I found out I passed the last final exam of my undergrad, I was excited. I walked down past my old apartments near the library and I found a bench to reflect while looking at fish in the pond. As tears of joy filed my eyes I was happy that I passed, but sad that I was leaving behind familiar ground. I was leaving behind all the people and the physical structure that surrounded me for what seemed to be so long, but now felt like a short five years.
It didn't dawn on me until the next day when I met my parents and began to get in line at 1st Mariner Arena on May 23rd, 2013 that it was not the end for any of those experiences. As I began to get my cap and gown straight, my whole entire five years was beginning to come together. Like a puzzle that is put together, the clear picture presented itself while what seemed to be disorganized was now gone. I never left anything behind by taking this new path. Going to that brunch taught me that journeys and destinations never end, but are just pathways to new beginnings and chapters in this thing called life.
As familiar faces walked past me for the last time in that hallway, I realized that I never went through any of my college experiences alone. I reflected on being a part of UMBC at the height of its growth (2008-2013) and seeing its fruition to learning from elder professors, student managers or hanging out with billiard buddies in the golden age of the gameroom. Like Odysseus, I found myself at the end of my journey completely different than what I was in the beginning. As that curtain pulled back and I was ready to walk in the same arena my mother graduated in.
Every step I made was me embodying my UMBC experiences into my outlook and thought for the future. When I turned that tassel and tossed my cap in the air I was moving on to new grounds. However, one extra thing I learned while moving on to new grounds is the fact that the old grounds will always be there in heart and mind. While the chapter closed on my undergrad experience at UMBC I realized moving forward that it was not the end, but just the beginning for many greater journeys in life.