If you’ve been following my blog at all, you’ll know that I’ve been looking forward to the events of today for months. After nearly 20 years, I’m back in school and finally finishing up my degree, and moving forward. It’s a dream come true, a dream that I never imagined would take me on this crazy journey. But here I am, a student at Pacific Lutheran University. WOW. I am a Lute!
This morning’s festivities…well, let me give you a tiny bit of background. The university is steeped in traditions founded in the Lutheran church (that’s not to say we don’t have religious diversity on campus, because we do, but that’s not the discussion for this post), and the university has just begun its 123rd year, after having been founded in December of 1890. There is a lot of symbolism that I don’t quite understand yet but I’ll learn as we go along. But for today, I got to be a part of something much bigger than myself. Traditions handed down through generations of faculty and students. And a new president was inaugurated at the same time, so a whole new era is about to begin!
I got up before my alarm went off, still not completely convinced that I was going to school. But the reminder I had set on my phone told me otherwise. It wasn’t even quite light yet when I stepped into the shower and let the warm water gently waken me. Nope, still not sinking in yet. I dress, eat my breakfast and prepare a lunch (it was going to be a long day, and I didn’t want to chance the dining hall today.), and check my sling pack for the millionth time to make sure my book and supplies were all packed. I grabbed my keys and headed over to school, and found a convenient parking slot. As I have done many times before, last spring while my husband was in class, I wandered over to the University Center to get a cup of coffee. It was a little chilly, and I knew I’d have to stand outside for a while.
Coffee in hand, I made my way to Centennial Square (the area in front of Eastvold Chapel, lovingly referred to as Red Square), where the new students (including transfers, like ME!) were to gather and line up before walking to Olsen Auditorium on the lower part of campus. Here’s a photo I took with my iPhone while we were waiting. The chapel is currently being renovated, or I’d have been able to get a photo of the Rose Window from the inside…it’s stunning. You’ll just have to trust me for now (or Google it.)
At 8:30am, the Centennial Bell was rung by three representatives, to officially declare the beginning of the morning’s ceremonies. Shortly after, the faculty and staff, in all of their academic regalia, lined up and filed past us on the way to the auditorium. Then we followed. All 500+ of us. (There are approximately 650 new students, but not everyone made it. In fact, behind me in line, one of the students questioned why she even bothered to get up early to go to this. She’ll figure it out someday.) In two lines, we filed down the hill, about 1/4 mile to the lower part of campus, past the faculty and staff who had lined the walkway on either side, all now burst into applause at our entrance. The university orchestra played as we filled the bleachers and the faculty came in behind to be seated in the chairs on the floor. All the while, the applause kept coming. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. This was real. They were happy to have us there, proud that we’d made it to this moment, cheering us on as new members of the PLU community. I overwhelmed with the emotions that swelled through the room. I was really here, beginning the journey I had fought so hard to take. Today was a beginning like no other, a day I will never forget. (And one which, fortunately, didn’t end the way my husband’s first day ended last year. But that’s another post, or three.)
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.