A Walk to the Mailbox

Joan seated in the crowd during the NWTC graduation ceremonyBy Joan Koehne '17

A walk to the mailbox was all it took.

My college diploma came in the mail this week.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College confirmed that my graduation requirements were met and issued a diploma. I already slid it inside the cover I was awarded at the official graduation ceremony in May.

The walk down my driveway to our mailbox lacked all of the pomp and pageantry of my walk across the stage to receive my “diploma” in May, but opening that envelop brought it all rushing back.

 When I walked into the Resch Center on May 19, I was awed by the atmosphere. The place is huge, yet we graduates seemed to fill up the space easily. Rows upon rows of chair were waiting for us.

As I looked around, I realized that each one of us students is so different, yet on that night we were all the same. Not only were we wearing the same blue robes and caps, but more importantly, we all had reached the same milestone in our lives. A college diploma!

I remember the huge crowd looking down at us from the seats above and the music of “Pomp and Circumstance.” I remember finding my husband in the crowd and feeling so thankful that he was there once again to support me, like he has done so often in my life. 

Crossing that stage to pick up my diploma was such a rush! Everyone on that stage seemed genuinely happy for me. Maybe it’s because they see the fruits of their labor right in front of them. They see the students they helped to guide onto career paths.

Our graduation speaker, Bob Atwell, of Nicolet National Bank, used examples from his own life to talk convincingly about both failure and success. He closed with one of my favorite poems called “Do it Anyway.” I like it not just because it’s attributed to Mother Theresa but because it’s all about persevering in life. Anyone who is a college graduate knows it takes perseverance to earn that diploma.

As I was leaving the Resch Center on May 19, I heard some graduates planning where to party that night.
Well, I guess my wild and crazy college days are over. In reality, I rate pretty low on the wild scale, but I’m glad my crazy days of full-time work and part-time school are over.

Thanks for the diploma, NWTC! I promise to put it to good use.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Koehne, of Abrams, is a 2017 graduate of NWTC. A former newspaper editor, she co-owns Writer to the Rescue, the content writing division of Packerland Websites.