A Message to University Class of 2022 Graduates

Hello Class of 2022. We did it. We graduated from our respective universities. Whether you finished community college (or junior college), a four-year Bachelor’s degree, or finished a graduate or post-Baccalaureate program, it’s time to celebrate you.

Our time in school was not as easy compared to others. For those of us who chose to get an education in-person, most of us had to suddenly switch to an online format because of Covid. My friends who graduated from grad school before me experienced it too. We had to deal with having to re-adjust to going back to school in an in-person format.

For others, our time in school was marked by life-changing diagnoses or health events. For me, I went most of my school life without an autism diagnosis. It explained how I had various different struggles in language arts and English classes, with undergrad being very difficult for me when it came to learning. Grad school was better because I learned to compensate and not repeat undergraduate mistakes. I could have done better in undergrad if I had a diagnosis and school supports, as my potential plan to go into a Doctorate program may be ruined by my undergraduate grades. My favorite Twitch streamer Hey_Bi_The_Way developed a physical disability within the past year and has had to learn to navigate academia with disability accessibility (or inaccessibility, rather) in mind.

Many of us, whether you realize it or not, are not supposed to be crossing the stage for graduation. There are systemic barriers that prevent many people, especially marginalized people, who want to attend a university from pursuing higher education. This can range from the cost of higher education preventing minorities from getting anything past a high school education to ableism preventing an autistic person from even be given an opportunity to attend university. Whether you are an autistic black person like me, a disabled Latina like my favorite Twitch streamer, or belong in a single or intersectional marginalized group, be proud that you were able to work hard to break barriers.

Honestly, if I knew it was going to take me four years to get a Master’s degree, I probably wouldn’t have done it. It is not supposed to take that long for a Master’s degree. I was judged for needing to take longer for a Master’s degree, even though I explained that I have a full-time job and wedding planning started shortly after I started grad school. I needed to take extra time due to needing pre-requisites due to my Bachelor’s degree not being in Computer Science and I had to stay an extra semester because my original graduate project was delayed due to other people. Even if I didn’t have those factors, I’m autistic (undiagnosed until almost a year ago) so I needed things to be manageable for me. The only things that were really worth it is meeting this one friend through another friend and feeling like I was given opportunities that not every university gives.

I have some extra special thanks to say here: I thank all of those who have been here since I announced being accepted into the Master’s program. I thank the few people who did not judge me for taking more than two years to get a Master’s degree. I especially thank Ravynn Stringfield, the creator of Black Girl Does Grad School (link below my picture as part of my image description). I didn’t realize I needed black woman in grad school representation until I found her blog. I even did a guest post at the end of 2018.

While this might be the last blog about my time in grad school, I hope people can benefit from the posts I made through the past for years. Until next time, my friends, keep learning.

Image description: A picture of me from the back with me holding up a sign saying “Thank you, Ravynn” and Ravynn’s website

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