I remember that day, in May of 1995. I had woken up early and played with my cap about a hundred times before I figured out how I should make it fit. The night before I had agonized over what to put on my graduation cap. I sat up for hours thinking about what was appropriate for how I was feeling. Somewhere about two in the morning, I had settled on “Now What?”. I did this because I had not been accepted to medical school, which was my lifelong dream. I had been accepted to Podiatric School and a graduate school for Biology (with a full scholarship as a graduate teaching assistant). I could also go out and do work in the field of molecular biology, but that wasn’t exciting me either. So there I was with a graduation cap and gown and a million ideas pulsing through my body.
It didn’t get better as the day rolled on. I felt this feeling that the day was profound and that I should have life a little more planned out. I had done my time, worked hard, so why didn’t I know what I was supposed to do. I also felt a kind of sad resentment that I would be returning home to rules instead of living on my own. I so very much wanted to have it all together. I wanted to have life all neatly planned out and graduation seemed scary and not joyful. I readied myself for the ceremony while still fussing over which path I should choose after I snatched that pig skin from the college president.
in a sea of graduates clad in black sat only twenty nine biology students. There were over two-hundred of us when we stared four years earlier, but the challenges of the course work had whittled us down to a loyal twenty-nine. I sat for about an hour before it was my row’s turn to get up for procession. I moved through the crowd and I looked up where I knew my family and extended family would be. I saw them clustered together cheering at the top of their lungs. Then, without warning, it dawned on me. I was the first graduate of college in a great while. I was achieving something profound no matter which path I choose. I had spent so much time on the “what if’s” that I had forgotten the central reason for why I went to school.
I grabbed my diploma and proudly shook the hand of the college president. I reached my seat and the totality of what I had accomplished hit me full force. It didn’t matter which path I choose. I can always change my mind and morph my life into what was best for me. It wasn’t time to have it all figured out, it was time to start figuring it out. I would ultimately take graduate school over foot doctor. But none of that really took hold. In the end, I was meant to teach and I have been a successful educator for over twelve years. I didn’t know it that day, but I was meant to MAKE doctors, not BE a doctor. I have served and helped more people by inspiring future doctors then I ever could have as a doctor alone.