the good fight

A reminder that went off on my phone today—
I set it months ago.

Today has been what feels like one of the most bittersweet days of my life. After six years of college, today was supposed to be the day that I walked across the stage at Minnesota State University Moorhead to accept the diploma that embodies all of my work. Summa Cum Laude. It has been a long time coming, and believe me, I thought about today for a long time.

There is a story why I didn’t walk across the stage today, one that has caused me much anger, sadness and frustration. It initially involved myself, one liberal arts credit short of the prerequisite, and 43 superfluous credits to bargain with. Throughout the past month and half I’ve reached out to numerous faculty members and administration to seek what should have been a simple appeal, my efforts tiring and fruitless. I went to the Dean. I went to the President. I went to the Provost with two letters of support from faculty members. Then I went back to the President. With the exception of two professors, no administrator believed in my case enough to support my plea. 
I have to hold back tears when I think of this, because I tried so hard. I tried and exhausted my heart, and still all of my fervid beliefs fell short. I think any corner of one’s mind that is filled with hatred is a corner wasted, and I have tried to file this case under “bad luck.” But I can’t deny that I am bitter, I am sad, and I am hurt by what has happened. I am jolted by the reality, that an institution could deny a hardworking, longtime student with a valid appeal and a handful of qualified courses, and that they could turn that student around to take a less-applicable 100-level class in order to graduate. I never wanted to hear myself think these words, but I feel like the system has failed me.

If there is a truth that I’ve learned from this process, it’s what I believe is worth fighting for. I don’t believe in my entire life that I’ve ever truly had to fight for something. Not “fighting” in the sense of beating your roommate to the shower in the morning, or winning a game of bowling, but really fighting. Putting your greatest efforts into something you wholeheartedly stand behind, and pressing your beliefs upon any opposing forces until the battle is won. I know this won’t be the last time in my life I’ll have to exercise these efforts, but win or lose, I have the choice to keep my head held high.
In the end I can never truly feel bad for myself, because I had the privilege of attending college in the first place, something many people never experience. Walking across the stage would have been the icing on the cake, but it didn’t happen. Instead I am forced to take an expensive summer course and graduate afterward. All things considered, I’ll be left with six years of knowledge and a piece of paper that will come in the mail, eventually—one that I didn’t receive in a cap and gown, or with a handshake, but in my mind, in an office, in New York City.

I am so thankful for how far I’ve come.

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