LEHMAN COLLEGE, BRONX, NY- “We did it!” one of my best friends Jeffrey Justice yelled as my classmates and I got together for a group picture by our banner. “Journalism, Communication, and Theater” it read. I was still recovering from the long speed walk I had to do to get to the APEX building. Earlier on my way over to campus, an elementary school student told me congrats. I thanked her as I kept my long black graduation gown from tangling with my white ballet flats. My classmates complimented me on my cap. I spent the previous night decorating it with foam stickers and fabric paint text. “This DJ got her degree. Class of 2015” it read.
I also spent the previous night writing out thank you cards and preparing gift bags for the three professors who have supported me throughout my whole journey: Tom O’ Hanlon, Migdio Dominguez, and Angela Piva. They made my time at Lehman a lot easier not just by teaching me what they could in audio, video, and broadcasting, but by also being my support system when I felt stressed and need a good laugh. No amount of words will ever be enough to tell them how much I appreciate everything they have done for me.
There was my support system outside of school as well. My friends pushing me forward to continue school, my parents for providing Cafe Bustelo when needed and at times giving me some space to do my assignments. My boyfriend, Gilberto, for being there when I needed him and helping me study. Alondra for being my guinea pig to test out questions when working on an article involving children. Muchas Gracias a todos.
My friends and I marched to the south field. The rest of the graduates were already seated. A swarm of black, green, gold, and white colors. I readjusted my hood (because no one really knows the correct way to put that thing on) and honors cord several times before taking my seat. The sun beamed over all of us. We were thankful it didn’t rain, but sweltered with the extensive heat. Thank God for the mini water bottles under our seats.
After several speeches, including one from our address speaker Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who quotes Drake “started from the bottom now we here”, it was time for the presentation of graduation candidates. Journalism was loud and proud when our department was called. Of course the business majors beat us to it in the cheering contest, but we still had our moment. Several minutes later the ceremony was over. We were all officially college graduates!
Technically I finished school in December 2014. My Multimedia Journalism degree is in a nice case at home. Two night ago I received my honors cord in recognition of my two academic achievements: Magna Cum Laude and Dean’s List. Today, I felt like I finished school this month. The adrenaline was real.
After the ceremony were the photos. I took pictures with my friends and classmates. My mom, Gil, and my DJ partner David came to support me. We relaxed on campus until most of the crowd dispersed. By then my cap, gown, cord, and hood were off because the heat and humidity had me close to an asthma attack.
There was one thing I was not able to do at Lehman and that was to produce my own radio show for the Lehman College Underground Radio station. I know my time will come for me to have a radio show someday. I also reflect on the all the new experiences I gained at Lehman besides my journalism skills; learning American Sign Language, improving my art techniques, doing live sound for a theater production, visiting Univision studios and SAG- AFTRA, and writing my first short stories. Thank you Lehman College for everything you have given me. This chapter has come to a close. Congrats to the class of 2015!
Photos by: Rosa Elena Oliveras, Gilberto E. Burgos, and Mom
Video by: Rosa Elena Oliveras