This was me, Monday night of this week. I walked across a stage and got a fancy hat with a tassel and became a graduate with a Master of Divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary. It’s not quite “official” yet, as I’m wrapping up my last class requirement tomorrow and haven’t gotten my diploma yet, but either way: this week marks the end of a three-year long chapter in my life.
Reflecting on the end of this period, as graduations often push you to do, I have mixed emotions. I was contemplating not even attending the ceremony this year, because I hate the formality of it and I hardly am at WTS anymore because of my full time job. But I did, and I’m glad that I ended up walking. It’s a small thing, maybe, but I had a moment on that stage with hood on and certificate of fitness in hand of “Holy Cow, I did it”. There have been a lot of nights in the past three years that I laid on my couch and cried and gave myself pep talks to drop out of school the next day, but I never actually followed through. Even though I did switch programs, and switched from in-residence to mostly online classes, I stuck with it, and I’m proud of myself for that.
I’m thankful that school is done – as anyone would be – because it means the end of tests and papers and required readings. I’m excited to have free time (I’ve heard it’s this mythical thing that some people have) and read what I want to and be able to focus on my work at church. I’ve been walking with one foot in my ministry and one foot at school all year, and I’m ready to be focused in one area. I’ve also been in school for the past 22 years straight, jumping from elementary to middle to high school to college and then seminary. I don’t remember life without being a student, and I’m ready for that to be over!
There’s one more part to seminary that I’m not going to miss: it was honestly the loneliest three years that I’ve had. It’s a weird transition going from a college where you know most people to a seminary that’s literally across the sidewalk where you only know a handful of people when you start. At a small school, you get to know pretty much everyone, which is fun. But, having a foot in so many different areas of life (and taking insane amounts of credits like I did) means you never get to know anyone deeply. There were good times with good people, don’t get me wrong – and I don’t want to say negative things about the people that I went to school with. But it was a lot of time spent alone studying or at home while Kelly was coaching or sitting in the atrium at school people-watching, and that’s not how I like to spend my time. I’m looking forward to making new friendships at our church and having more time to see the friends that have stuck with me through the craziness of graduate school now that it’s over.
So, as I look ahead to my last day (ever!!!) of school in the morning – this is one chapter that I’m looking forward to the end of. It’s taught me so much, and I’m excited to use that in my ministry in years ahead. I’m also ready for the end of homework and assignments. Thanks for the past three years, WTS – but I’m officially an alumni.