Well, I did it! I graduated from Kaplan University with an MeD in Online Teaching & Learning, Summa Cum Laude (4.0). I drove my gorgeous BMW to Chicago while my parents took the Amtrak from Martinsburg, WV. We stayed at a motel in Elk Grove Village near my undergrad Andrews University friend, Ronda Sandic. That was Friday, August 3, 2012. The next morning, we dropped off Daisy, my Dachshund, at Ronda’s and Daddy drove into the city to McCormick Place, adjacent to Soldier Field on Lake Michigan.
A Kaplan University attendant met me with a wheelchair because there is no way I would have been able to walk around the huge complex. I spent the money to attend and have my parents with me. It is one of those events that a person cannot miss!
I found my colleagues in Higher Education in a designated area on the 2nd floor and met some of the people I had been in school with the past 13 months. We adjusted our caps & gowns. The master’s gowns, by the way, are different than the undergrad gowns in that they have an extended part of the sleeve that hangs down at the wrist.
Next, I was wheeled to the photography room where I had my picture taken in full regalia. It turned out better that I thought. Then I was wheeled to a special wheelchair section of the auditorium. I was sad that I couldn’t sit with my colleagues. McCormick Place has a huge auditorium. I took my family to see the Nutcracker at Christmas 1985 in my undergrad days at Andrews. Kaplan students (2500 of us) were each given 2 extra tickets – that’s it! My parents sat on the 2nd level.
The official program began with the color guard and performance of the national anthem. When the graduation march began playing, we all stood and I cried through it all. It is an experience I will never forget. I stood there drinking in all the sights, smells, and sounds. The keynote speaker was Jack Canfield, one of the authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He was funny and engaging. We also heard from the president of Kaplan University.
We were instructed that all students must remain seated until the very last diploma was awarded. I thought it would take forever but they fed students in 2 receiving lines – one from each side of the stage. When my turn came, I was wheeled to the stage and then I walked across to the president and received my diploma. Then I walked to the middle, held my diploma high and shouted, “WooHoo”! It was one of those memorable moments.
Afterward, Mother finally found me and wheeled me to the outdoor balcony so I could smoke. We stood there looking out over Lake Michigan. Life was good.