Well team, I did it. I now have a Masters in Library and Information Science. I am currently experiencing a mix of emotions, mostly excited and proud, with a small hint of nervousness for what comes next.
It was a lovely weekend for graduation. My dad came down for the celebration and boy, in true Fargo fashion, we shoved a lot of great stuff together in only a few days. But personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. So a recap, filled with pictures and links. Enjoy!
This post is a bit lengthy, but I tried to divide the post by events/days, so hopeful it's more manageable. Lots happened that I needed to fill you in on!
The fun began on Friday with a half day off from the local school district. I made my way over to the after-school center where I've worked since August 2014. Side note: If you haven't heard about my work at the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center, see it here, or here, or even here!
The kids were a bundle of energy and it was cool to introduce them to my dad. "Miss Hailley that's your dad?" they asked countless times. He shook every student's hand who came up to him and for me, it made me so happy to see both of my worlds colliding. We played Roblox all afternoon before parents came to pick their children up.
Saturday began with a trip to the local's farmers' market. We picked up local Pandamonium Doughnuts and Cracked (both pretty cool food trucks). As we stood in line for food, we quickly realized the sun wasn't going to stay out and we would be extra chilly if we didn't have more layers. So back to my apartment we went, grabbed gloves, and made our way to Memorial Stadium for the campus-wide commencement exercises (I love how it's not a ceremony, but an exercise).
Having graduated from a small, liberal arts college in Iowa, I was not use to a commencement exercise of this size. It was HUGE. So many people and many underdressed. The ceremony got underway and I was so thankful I had an extra sweatshirt and gloves on. While long, the ceremony itself was well done. The speakers dealt well with the major wind, hats flying off their heads, and chilly temps.
What was the standout part of this morning was the commencement address by UIUC alum, Joe Huber. He's had an interesting career, with his current position being the CEO of Grail, a company dedicated on finding a way to detect cancer at stage 1 or stage 2 (when there is a higher chance of curing it). Huber took up this role when he lost his wife to cancer (a mere six months before he gave the commencement address). They didn't detect her cancer until it was at stage 4 and far too late to do anything to stop it from spreading.
Huber's speech focused on finding a better way. It was moving and for me, hit close to home. A full transcript can be found here, but I did pull my favorite line (and many others liked it too)
Saturday night included a Convocation Dinner sponsored by my department. Invitations were given to students who had received a faculty voted award. The dinner was lovely and it was great to give my dad a chance to meet many faculty, staff, and students who I had worked with for the past two years. I also got to meet some students I hadn't met before, which of course was exciting for me.
I was fortunate enough to receive the Kathryn Luther and William T Henderson award. The award was given for the first time this year and is given to a student who: "Awardees will have a demonstrated record of service to the community (home, campus, fellow students, etc.) through professional activities. As do the Hendersons, the annual recipients will stand as exemplars of the Beta Phi Mu motto, Aliis inserviendo consumor, “Consumed in the service of others.”
The citation for the award was written by my mentor, Martin, and then another professor, Rachel, who I have gotten the chance to get to know during her first year at GSLIS. It was a lovely citation, highlighting all the things I worked so hard on and am so proud of. I was recognized for this award again on Sunday during my department convocation.
Sunday morning was our convocation. As I lined up with my cohort, waiting to enter, it sort of hit me that this was it. I had worked two years for those moments. And these past two years were full of my own sorts of challenges and successes. But throughout it all, I found a community of support and people who get who I am and where I want to go (even if I don't fully know myself). While some wonder if coming straight from undergrad to grad is a good choice, it was the right choice for me. I feel I am a stronger student, a more thoughtful librarian (and scholar), and have enhanced my perspective in ways that will benefit me in the future. I found a way to be a part of the GSLIS community and spend time investing in the program and the people. It was worth all the late nights, the long to-do lists, spending hours replying to emails, and piles of reading.
Plus I got to wear a sweet blue robe, a lemon colored hood that grew on me over the weekend, and a motorboard hat that was far too big for my head (so much for measuring).
When we got out of convocation, the sun was shining and made it perfect for taking pictures.
Post-convocation, we grabbed lunch and custard from Jarlings. Places were packed with graduates, but we lucked out on picking good times to go (and snagging a reservation from a family who didn't show up on time). We even ran into a sibling of a girl I went to Coe with. "What a small world!"
So what's next you ask? So many things, including sleeping in, reading books for fun, biking around town, working with small children, blogging, and preparing to move to Pennsylvania (more on that coming soon). But before all that starts, I just sort of want to take in this graduation weekend. A great weekend filled with family and friends and lots of librarians.