If you read this, it means I have officially defended my dissertation and passed. Technically, I’ve already got my Ph.D. The typical tagline would be, “Now you can call me Dr.” LoL But, ugh, well, that title is quite burdensome because I think people will have expectations and I really am not up for it. I mean, I am just done with the ordeal, so right now I really just want to relax…

Anyway, let’s sum up several things first. I actually joined the Spring Commencement and Convocation 2021 on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 7pm. At first, I hesitated whether to join it or not because I wasn’t done with my whole draft, and I hadn’t even defended it. What if I joined the graduation celebration but then failed the defense? I consulted my Chair about it but they said I could join because if they had not thought I was ready for defense, they wouldn’t have let me defend. And somehow we’ve scheduled the date for the defense and it means I’d definitely pass and it’s just a matter of how much revision the other committees wanted me to do later. I could thankfully submit my final draft 2 days after graduation, exactly 3 weeks before the scheduled defense.

At first, I wasn’t sure bout attending in person or virtually. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And this might be my last graduation (since I am not sure if I ever want to pursue any higher education in the future). And it would be my last time in the US too. So I finally decided to attend the ceremony in person. I’ve been fully vaccinated anyway. And they’d make sure that everyone is Covid free, keeps social distancing, wears masks, etc. Thankfully, GPSC (The Graduate and Professional Student Council) rented the gown and cap for graduation for free. I wasn’t aware of it, but thankfully a friend told me about it, so I signed up to borrow the gown and the cap. I asked the commencement committee if I needed any other regalia such as tassels, hoods, sole of gratitude, etc., but they said only the gown and the cap were compulsory and the others were optional. At first, I wasn’t sure whether to buy my own regalia or rent it. I kinda wanted to buy it because of sentimental reasons, well, because, again, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, I kinda want to have some kind of memento. But it sounded so selfish and useless because I don’t think I would wear them again in the future. Not to mention that they were quite costly. So in the end I only bought the tassel, costing me only $0.56 because I actually used my $10 reward for taking the Covid Test and getting the Vaccine.

My parents didn’t come, of course. I thought I wasn’t really the sentimental type, but actually, I felt slightly bad about it. When I called home, my parents always told me how people often told them that I would fly them to the US for my graduation. Well, maybe deep down they wanted to go and come too 🥺😔 But I couldn’t tell them that I’d fly them here. It would’ve been too expensive, and I don’t really have the money. But money is not really the issue ’cause I can always save up. But I just imagined how troublesome it would be for them to come here and how wasteful it would be. They don’t speak English, and I can’t imagine them being confused and getting yelled at at the airport or something. Not to mention it would be troublesome to get a visa. I didn’t want them to go into such trouble for me. And we’ve still got Covid, right? We’re still in the midst of pandemics, so it’s really not safe. And for what? Just for pics and a short vacation? They always believed in me and so when I said it’s better for them to not come for some reasons, and that we could use the money for something else, they’d just smile saying they understand. I’ve been using these excuses to make me feel better. But actually, I can’t help thinking that maybe they’d been happier if they could attend in person too. I don’t know if they actually wanted to come, but I hope they didn’t feel so bad bout not coming… and hopefully we can someday travel together maybe to some other places when it’s safer.

So yes, I’m so thankful that Bu F and family, the ones that are like my family here in Tucson, came to my graduation. At first, I only applied for tickets for 3 guests (Bu F and her daughters), but when I picked up the tickets, they gave me 4, so I was happy because at the end Bu F, husband, and her 2 daughters could come. It felt like my real family coming and I was so happy I felt like crying. I hope they knew how thankful I am to have them. I hope they’re blessed with happiness and good people around them in their entire life. Aamiin.

My lame, prepared in a short time, graduation cap.

My graduation actually started 7pm at Arizona Stadium. The gate was open at 6pm. But Bu F was too eager to come early, so I went to their place around 4.30ish pm because I had not decorated my cap. It was hectic. LoL I mean, tbh, I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I had been back then when I finished my master’s degree. Back then I really made time to decorate my cap and all. This time I was just so done and still feeling anxious because of the upcoming defense. But, well, I asked A., Bu F’s first daughter to help me print some stuff for my cap. Then we tried to decorate it. I actually prepared some cool designs, but because we didn’t have enough time to decorate, we just left some decorations unattached. The cloth was not easy to decorate either-we even had to sew some adornment like the writing and the Indonesian flag. We tried to double-tape to stick the printing but it didn’t stick. At the end, my decoration was kinda lame. LoL I just insisted that I want to have at least Indonesian flag, the writing that says “Ph.inishe.D” (It’s Ph.D.!), UA logo, UA mascot, and a pic of my Sabonen (please refer to this post for more info about Sabonen). Bu F asked why I insisted to have Sabonen pic, but oh, my, if only I could explain well. But I love Sabonen so much. I love Chinen. And they’ve been with me during the hardship the last two years, so yeah, I’m thankful to them and wanted to celebrate with them 🙂 (At the end it looked really lame, so I just detached the Sabonen pic and the UA mascot. LoL)

We took some pics. Bu F and family gave me a bouquet of beautiful flowers (there were two bouquets actually, small and big that were combined to be one large bouquet). I was so happy. I don’t remember having ever received such a bouquet of flowers, so maybe it’s my first?^^ Then we left for the venue. We parked the car, took some more pics, and then went our separate ways because the gate for the graduating students and the gate for the guests were different. I checked in. They checked my bag. I was carrying my clear bag as instructed. They checked my well-check app, and when they saw that I had been vaccinated, they let me in.  Apparently, I was early. Nobody from my program had come. But there were only a few Ph.D. students graduating at that time. We, Ph.D. graduates, were provided only one row of seats/chairs right in the front, the second row after the reversed seats for the guests. Perhaps around 10 people? I wasn’t sure. Then more friends came, and we realized that we did not enough chairs. Two of my Ph.D. friends had to sit behind us along with the master’s graduates. We took pictures. I happened to also see where Bu F and family were sitting before, so I gave them my camera so they could take my pics using the Zoom feature.

I was nervous. I saw many people, almost everyone, wearing hoods and other accessories. Meanwhile, there I was only wearing my rented gown and cap, and tassel as well as a medallion that I got from the College of Humanities. I was worried that they’d kick me out of the venue or something. But I tried to calm myself down as I had asked the committee and they said only cap and gown were compulsory. I thought, “If they’re gonna remove me from this ceremony, I’d get to show them the correspondence email with the committee.” But later I also saw some master’s students without a hood, wearing just gown, cap, and tassel exactly like I was. So I was relieved. They displayed my picture and the sentence I submitted when rsvp-ing for the ceremony, by the way. Too bad it was displayed too fast so I couldn’t take a picture of it. But, well, Ph.D. graduates were called the last. So basically the ceremony was over after we were called. And dang, they still pronounced my name wrong even though I have given them the perfect English way to pronounce my name. They should’ve learned to pronounce foreign names better. Jeez.

Me and some friends.

Anyway, the ceremony ended around 9pm. I took some pictures with my friends. We threw our caps to the sky and all. Graduation celebration ceremonial. And then I headed back to meet Bu F and family. We actually promised to meet in front of Gate 2, but somehow we met inside the stadium so we left together. They actually wanted me to take me out to dinner. But most of the restaurants were closing and did not receive dine-in. So we went home. I had to continue to revise my draft too. But I guess I didn’t do well. I even forgot about my friend’s defense the next morning. It was scheduled to be at 8.30am. But I thought it wasn’t that day. And I realized to check the email they sent me around 9.30am, when the public session had already been over. I felt so bad about it. I promised I’d attend their defense. I should’ve set a reminder or something. But, well, I could not go back to the past, so I hope my friend would forgive me as I was just happy that they finally defended and graduated.

Anddddd, I haven’t posted any of my graduation pics yet because I wanted to wait for the defense. Well, some friends did tag me on Facebook. I posted a pic of the bouquets of flowers Bu F’s family gave me too. But not the other pictures. But well, I actually shared the link to my graduation ceremony in my WhatsApp status for people in case they wanted to watch. I am not sure if anyone did watch it live, though. I didn’t ask my parents because they weren’t tech-savvy enough. They wouldn’t know how. But well, I don’t know what else to write, so I guess I’d just share a quote I learned during the graduation ceremony that night. Three deans of three colleges gave speeches that night: College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, College of Fine Arts, and College of Humanities. I believe this one was by the dean of the College of Fine Arts, he said:
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Class of 2021, you did it, that’s you.”

Congraduations to everyone graduating this year. Wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors. Don’t forget to be happy because “You’ve got a life. And it’s just a Ph.D. Life is more than that.” 🙂

Bear Down!

PS: Btw, this is the graduation ceremony. I shared this with my parents and they were like, “You look so small. Why didn’t they say your name correctly?” Well, I wonder too…

About Author

I might have a lot of identities: a daughter, a friend, a learner, a traveler, a lover, a teacher, a fan, etc, but above all, I want you to see me simply as a human. I am no different from everybody else. But that's what makes all the difference. That's because everybody is unique :)

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