Last week Friday I finished my Masters in Education and had a pseudo graduation – a paper hat, a bouquet, a kind speech from our visiting professor, and a celebratory dinner with my classmates. If I wanted to walk in the actual ceremony I would have to make it to Massachusetts in December which is not going to happen.

While I’m proud of my accomplishment, I would not call it a life changing event. I always knew this day would come – I love learning and seek opportunities to do it. A masters degree was not a question of “if” but of “when and how.” Before I even moved my yarn tassel from one side of my construction paper hat to the other, I was thinking of my professor’s words: “You should really consider a PhD program. I have some recommendations…”

Tuesday I went to another graduation ceremony. Actually, it wasn’t even a graduation – it was a baccalaureate service in preparation for the graduation, but at this Guatemalan school, the service is equally as important as the graduation ceremony itself. Amongst other things, the students receive their graduation rings from their parents as they are blessed and sent out to be agents of change in the world.

Joel and I witnessed our dear friend Nicte walk across the stage and receive her ring (ok, well, it was a spoon ring made by Jason Veenstra because her actual ring wasn’t ready – but it will be soon). She was beaming with pride and looked beautiful.

It was even more beautiful to know how hard Nicte worked for this honor.

Nicte didn’t have power for the two weeks leading up to her final exams. She studied by candle or whatever light she could manage. She transferred in from a Guatemalan public school where she had 6 math teachers in one year – and she fought tooth and nail to pass applied physics. Nicte went against the norms of her community and achieved something truly great.

This achievement is not only inspiring her – she told us how her mom went with her to take the entrance exams to the national university and took them herself. She wants to study dentistry.

I hope and pray that this graduation is just the start for Nicte and that she can add a University degree, Masters degree, and even a PhD to her list of achievements. I look forward to seeing her mind continue to open as she learns and grows.

Congrats, friend!


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