Graduation 2017 and my Granddaughter

A Completion and a Beginning.

Most of life is just day after day—the rising and setting of the sun, the turning of the seasons. One day blending into another.

But then, there are the milestones, those events that mark a new phase in one’s life: the birth of a child, a marriage, the death of a loved one … and yes, the completion of one’s studies in high school or college.

For each of those events we have ceremonies. Our families and friends show up. They congratulate us and bring us gifts or cards.

This past Tuesday my granddaughter graduated from college. By the time I deplaned in Newark to witness her achievement, she’d already completed her finals and submitted her senior thesis. She’d spent days hugging her friends and saying teary goodbyes. She’d packed her boxes and suitcases. And she’d earned the credits and grades to graduate from Princeton University with high honors with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

It was definitely a completion worth celebrating. And we did.

Then, the next day, we all flew away, and we left her alone to construct a new life for herself.

On my plane ride back to Seattle, I imagined her sitting at the dining room table in shorts and a T-shirt. She presses her lips together and opens her laptop. Pausing for a moment, she hesitates because whatever she does next has personal, real-world consequences. Then she takes a deep breath and begins a Google search for her first post-college job.

What it will be and where it will take her, no one knows. But this week as she begins her new beginning, I send her all my love.

 

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” —Confucius


A personal note:

The weather at graduation was too cool and wet for my new dress. Sometimes, I guess, it doesn’t help to plan ahead.

Now I need another event.

 

 

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About Nicki Chen

About Nicki Chen Nicki Chen is a writer living in Edmonds, WA. Her first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is set in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation, 1937-1945. She's working on a second novel set in Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation where she and her late husband lived in the early '90s.
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32 comments


  1. Congratulation to your granddaughter, Nicki! What an achievement! And what a lovely look at her probable first steps into the real world.




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    • Choosing a college may seem like a big decision for a high school student, and it is. But choosing and getting hired for a first job is more like jumping off the high dive.




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  2. Congratulations to your granddaughter, Nicki. Wishing her the best as she ventures into her next stage of life. My niece, who graduated from college with honors and is attending law school, recently left for 10 weeks of boot camps with the Marines.
    I bet you looked fabulous in that dress…great color!




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  3. Congrats to your granddaughter! Big accomplishment! As for the dress, that happens to me all the time. I had a spring wedding. I wanted something very spring (think Lily Pulitzer print). At the time most springy dresses available were sleeveless. I found something (not springy) with short sleeves and even that wasn’t warm enough for the day. Your dress is beautiful. Yep, now you need an occasion!




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    • Planning ahead doesn’t always work. We also planned to go to a Broadway play. (It would have been a first for me.) But there was a big parade on 5th Avenue for Israel Day, and a 40-minute ride from New Jersey ending up taking more than two hours, so we missed it. The day was saved with a trip to the Met.

      I was glad I gave up on my dress and wore jeans and tennis shoes instead. The young women in sandals with bare arms and legs looked awfully cold.




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  4. Life’s passages are truly exciting to watch. Best of luck to your granddaughter.




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    • Thank you, Paddy. It’s nice to have these ceremonies so we can all acknowledge what the graduates have accomplished and wish them well as they move into a new phase of life.




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  5. That’s wonderful about your granddaughter’s graduation — and from Princeton, too!

    Also, gorgeous dress — you’ll definitely have to find an opportunity to wear that.




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    • She worked hard during the past four years and graduated with high honors. She also seemed to be having lots of fun–making new friends, singing in the Chapel Choir, and playing drums in the Princeton band.




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  6. Mary Anne

    Dear Nicki, another Tiger-Tiger in your den! What a beautiful young lady Catherine is. We cheer for her and for mom and dad who managed to enhance our world with her talents!
    Mary Anne and Gil




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  7. That is fantastic! Congrats to the proud Grandma and Graduate. Alas for the dress…maybe you need to plan a fancy dinner party!




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    • I’m so lazy about planning dinner parties, and when I do have people for dinner, they don’t dress up. Maybe I should have a tea party using my grandma’s china painted dishes. My sister, for one, is always game for dressing up.




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  8. Ah, what a dress…love that. As I said before there is nothing like that feeling of pride and love for our grandchildren. Congrats.




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    • I do love my grandchildren. Too bad they’re all so far away.

      It was the color of the dress that attracted me. I went shopping looking for something quite different.




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  9. Yayy! Congratulations to your granddaughter! Your post made me remember my own graduation… it was 11 years ago already!! Time flies!




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    • When I think back to my own graduation, it was so long ago, I don’t remember much. I think we were displeased with the Archbishop for his support of the Vietnam War. I think some of us walked out. I went to a Jesuit university, so the Archbishop spoke at graduation.




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  10. Congrats to your granddaughter on graduating. What a milestone and all the best to her for the future. She looks so happy in the graduation gown. I remember when I graduated I didn’t want all the fuss – I wanted it to be really low-key so after the ceremony I went home. Hope you get to wear that dress at some point. It looks lovely and every bit the summer dress 🙂




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    • I think it’s not uncommon for the graduate to pooh-pooh the ceremony. He isn’t surprised that he’s graduating and he’s ready to get on with it. When my son-in-law received his doctorate, he told us not to come. It was no big deal. We came anyway. I think it’s the parents and grandparents who appreciate the significance of the milestone.

      I didn’t actually see her in her cap and gown. It was hard to see over the tall men, who kept standing up to take pictures. The jacket she’s wearing with the tiger on the back is her class of 2017 jacket. In coming years she’ll wear it to class reunions.




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      • I also told my family not to come when I finished my Bachelor’s and then my Master’s. They came anyway 😂 So many people are graduating these days – so competitive when it comes to the job market.




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  11. Congratulations to your granddaughter. What a fabulous accomplishment!




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    • I wonder if the young fully appreciate their accomplishments. I suspect my granddaughter may have taken it as a matter of course. The graduation rate for Princeton students is 96.8%. I thought it was interesting that the featured speaker spoke about getting back up after you fall down, something everyone will have to face sometime in his or her life.




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  12. Congrats to your granddaughter . . . and best of luck to her in finding the next stepping stone on her path.

    As for the dress ~> keep your eyes open to possibilities and the perfect occasion may appear on YOUR path. 😀




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    • Thanks, Nancy. I don’t doubt that she will find the next stepping stone. What it will look like and where it will be is yet to be known. I hope it will provide some pleasant challenges.

      I like your suggestion of a perfect occasion appearing on my path. Hmmm.




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  13. Maureen Rogers

    Congratulations to your granddaughter, Nicki! I’m sure you’ll find another fabulous event to wear that lovely red dress!




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    • Thank you, Maureen.

      I have to laugh at you calling my dress red. That’s so Chinese. I think of the dress as pink with a coral tinge. I’ve been told that Almond Roca, which has pink packaging, is popular in China because it’s red, a celebratory color for the Chinese. Of course, everyone has his or her interpretation of colors. My sister and I disagree on colors that are in between green and blue.




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  14. I hope it comes soon, that occasion, Nicki – before Summer has fled. 🙂 🙂 Heartwarming tales, beautifully told – both this and the Memorial Day post. Congratulations to your lovely granddaughter!




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  15. Congratulations to your granddaughter, Nicki. This is an achievement and I wish her the best with her job search. Too bad for your dress, but what could you do? In a funny way I also had to switch from summer to winter clothes a few years ago when my daughter graduated from Berkeley. The weather was so cold! But the warm memories compensate, no?
    Congrats again to your granddaugher!




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