Graduation and gratitude

Have you ever been in one place but felt like your heart was somewhere else? It doesn’t happen to me often. But it did a few weeks ago, and I was gutted.

It was the goal my students and I had worked fervently towards, from the first day I met them about two years ago. They became my favourites… unique personalities, bold and bright ideas, unashamedly blunt and a zest for life that energised me every day! Challenges – there were many! But we worked around them; we overcame them, we conquered them. I was truly enamoured by the tenacity of spirit displayed by my students. As journalists-in-the-making, they never failed to keep abreast with news stories and enthusiastically went out on the field, shadowing and learning the nuances of the craft from journalists.

I had last seen all of them in November before year-end examinations. And of course, the expectation was that I would see them at graduation….well, not just see them, but I would be cheering them on! On the 22nd of May, they donned their graduation caps and clutched their certificates with pride. With my son just a week old and me still recovering post-pregnancy, I was not there, but my heart was.

I looked at the clock obsessively – waiting for graduation to end so they could share pictures with me. In the weeks leading up to graduation, I had bumped into a few of them who visited campus, and told them that I most likely would not be attending. Others expected me to be there. In the hours that followed, I received a few pictures that warmed my heart and a few messages that made my heart cry.

Yes, lecturing has been a very emotional journey for me because it’s a path I never imagined I would tread or grow to love. But, I have written about this before and it bears repeating… with such humble and hard-working students, how can you not fall in love with being their lecturer and giving them your best?

That’s exactly what I did.

Ask any educator and they will tell you that it isn’t about the money; it’s about the opportunity to empower and enrich young lives. And the greatest reward comes from messages like these…. I’m sharing them as I received them – with the emoticons!

“Gratitude to the woman who provoked the abilities in me…
Thank you for believing in me even when I doubted my self🙃.
Women like you are rare❣ I am so grateful that I met you and listened to you.
Today I am a graduate who believes that great things are coming 😊all thanks to you.
Thank you for leading me in the correct direction.
Thank you for being honest and fair to me.
Thank you❣I appreciate you💓.”
“Hi Maya. I hope you are doing well
I was so dissapointed that you couldn’t make it to our graduation 😢😢

I am volunteering at a community radio station and I am also studying part-time. Studying without lecturers is difficult – I wish I could  come back to you😓.

Thanks for your time Maya😍 I miss you and I hope to hear from you.”
“Good day Maya❤ I hope you are doing great.

I just wanted to say thank you for everything. Thank you for believing in me even when I had doubted myself that I was capable of achieving anything. Thank you for ensuring that I excelled in my academics and these 19 distinctions I obtained prove that I had amazing lecturers who were guiding me in the correct direction.

On Wednesday I graduated. I was so happy and I wished that you were there to witness the moment with me, as someone who encouraged me to become a better version of myself.

I believe that there is so much that I am still going to achieve in the field of journalism and that is because of the people like you who played an amazing role in my life.

Once again I can never thank you enough for what you have done for me and not forgetting my peers whom you assisted as well.

Thank you sooo much🙏much love ❤❤❤”

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