Walking around the Berkeley campus two weeks ago during graduation weekend, I felt like an imposter. It was truly a unique feeling that my third time on campus was the weekend I was graduating.
“Don’t let the cap and gown fool you,” I thought to myself, secretly talking to the swarms of newly minted graduates. “I’m walking around making my memories, while you are walking around remembering yours.”
But in the end, whether it was my first time or 100th time walking in front of Doe Library or past the campanile, the reason for being there was the same: the celebration of the accomplishment of all students, on campus and off.
This was the first and likely only time I would meet many of my fellow classmates from the Berkeley Data Science program in person. But that doesn’t detract from the celebration of the weekend, nor from the relationships I have made with my fellow students over the past year and a half. Even though we were not on campus and often times many miles and time zones apart, the 20 months we spent together was an important time in our lives.
It speaks volumes to me that so many of my online classmates made the trek from near and far to attend graduation. Nearly 100% of the students eligible to graduate came to the on campus commencement. We came to because we value each other, to culminate the journey we took together. We came to support the staff and faculty, for taking a risk on us and our program. We came to make our mark in the history of the School of Information and Berkeley as a whole.
I will not soon forget my classmate who took the red-eye flight back to the east coast only 12 hours removed from our own graduation to attend his brother’s graduation from college the very next day. Nor will I forget the student who was face-timing with his children (who were cheering wildly from home) as he crossed the stage.
Walking across the stage we did not only receive our diplomas. We also solidified ourselves as part of the Berkeley history and set foundations for the future of education at the highest level. Together, with my fellow graduates, I look forward to realizing our impact in the world.