Friday, Scott and I flew out to Phoenix, AZ in anticipation of my Saturday evening graduation. We got in quite late, so nothing much happened of note that evening. We did eat at a nice little greek restaurant near to hotel, so it wasn't a total bust.
Saturday, we tried to sleep in (didn't happen) and lounged around reading in the absolute silence of our hotel room. For those of you with small children, you will recognize that this was almost a vacation in and of itself. :) We hit some bookstores, and tried to stay mostly indoors. It was, after all, like 110 degrees there! We went back to the hotel fairly early to get ready, since I had to be at the America West Arena by 3:00.
We ate lunch at the Hard Rock a bit late, since we wouldn't get another chance to eat until later that evening - Pacific time, so it would feel like we weren't getting to eat dinner until about 9 pm. Look, Trish took in some liquid courage in preparation:
We then walked over to the arena and attended the 'Meet and greet'. I got professional cap and gown photos taken, but goodness only knows when we'll get those back. (Side note, they also took photos as each grad shook hands with the presenter and got their diploma). The meet and greet was up on the third floor, so we got a great view of where the event would take place:
And on to the actual graduation shots, where I've highlighted myself so you can find me in the sea of black:
The ceremony was really nice, with a large band of bagpipes and drums both before and after the ceremony. Our keynote speaker (via highly edited video) was the CEO/Founder of Monster.com. They also did a video presentation where they got video clips from various important people like the governor of Arizona, CEO of Loreal, and people of that scale. Our student speaker was a MBA candidate, also in the E-Business school like me. She was nervous, but her words could have been anyones. She talked about how much of a blessing it was to be able to further your education while working, raising families and not living the life of a 'normal' college student. Prior to online education, many of the people in that audience (there were over 1300 in our evening ceremony alone - over 3000 graduating for online this weekend) would not have been able to achieve this honor.
Finally, Scott took a photo of me in the full regalia, and I took a photo of him after I presented him with the 'Stole of Gratitude'. Tradition has it that you present a stole to someone who was supportive of you getting your degree and who should share in the honor. If that isn't my husband, I don't know who would be. Scott spent well over two years getting the kids out of my hair in the evenings when I had schoolwork to do, putting up with me lugging a laptop on vacation to get in my required posts, and understanding that my evenings often had to be devoted to school instead of to relaxing with him once the kids went to bed.
OH! The one thing that will stay with me forever is when I finally got up to Scott in the stands after the ceremony, he gave me a hug and told me that he was SO proud of me. It was said with such emotion that I almost cried.
I also stocked up on some 'alumni' gear so I could proudly show that I DID IT!!!!
After changing out of my cap and gown, I just had on my black dress with my stole across my shoulders, and Scott took me to the Capital Grill for a nice dinner. OH! I ate too much. The waitress even bought me desert, but I had to take it back to the hotel and eat it later! The table was sprinkled with little 'Congratulations' confetti. Yummy! I literally gained three pounds this weekend, so I've got some work to do this week *laugh*
We were scheduled to fly out America West around 11:30 on Sunday. When we got there, we found they were overbooked. Scott and I took the bump and SCORED! They gave us each $300 flight vouchers, and put us on an American flight going out at 4:00. That means I actually got miles for the flight, in addition to the $600 worth of flight vouchers! Yowza! That was certainly worth the wait.
The weekend was very memorable, and it was a nice end to two and a half years devoted to business school. Thanks to all of you who also expressed support during those times and struggles. It was much appreciated.