December 17, 2012

I started my MBA three years ago with an ambiguous end goal. I certainly didn’t really picture myself here, at the end of the line. But, here we are, and after three solid years of papers, tests, all-weekend work sessions and major projects, I am done. There’s going to be a sadness now that it’s over, and some feelings of being in limbo. After a while, that will pass, and I will continue towards the future. I am in the middle of achieving some of my dreams, completed others, and still others are nebulous, unfolding out before me.

I could not have made this journey alone.

I missed milestones along the way in pursuit of this achievement. To my friends and family who were so patient and supportive, even in times that I could not return the favor, I am so grateful for the love and support you gave me. Had I been more of a fire-forged person, I may have been able to do it alone. But the truth is that I am not, so everything you have done, from asking me how it was going, to being excited that I was nearly done made all of the difference in the world to me. I carried each of you with me across the stage on Sunday.

Along the way, there were teachers and mentors who went above and beyond to help me not only in the classroom, but in my life. An education starts in a classroom, but without real life, it is achieved in a vacuum and is meaningless. I could not have made it without those mentors. I will continue to hold them dear and seek out new ones along the way, because a path is made much easier with a guide.

I wish I had a picture of the view from the stage when I got my diploma to show you, because there truly is nothing like it: to see a sea of faces and hear the applause of a few thousand people. It is an odd and wonderful thing to hear your full name across a loudspeaker and hear people clapping for you. I hope that in whatever you do, you get a chance to hear and see that: it is amazing.

It’s still hitting me, in inches, that this is a reality. I earned this: in laughter, tears, arguments, long days of both work and school, in shaky relief of delivered presentations, in naps across chairs in a library and meals out of vending machines. I earned it, I would not trade a single minute of it, and I wear it all as a badge of honor.

Julia Z, MBA