Finally, sadly: After spending two intense years with my cohort, going through ups and downs, crying, laughing, getting annoyed by each other and loved by each other, breaking down physically and emotionally, getting back up again, and growing immensely in both personal and professional ways—it is time to say goodbye to this part of my graduate life.
Of course in those last few weeks of our graduate life together, my cohort did cry and laugh, but it is better to get out with a bang than with a whimper. Therefore, we celebrated the past two years with a research celebration, Manifest, and Commencement.
The research celebration took place the Thursday before Commencement as part of Columbia’s annual Graduate Showcase. At this event, each member of my cohort presented a research poster reflecting the current status of our master thesis project, including an abstract, the purpose of the study, research questions, methodologies, and methods. Because my research is based on a specific theoretic framework (interpersonal neurobiology), I also included a definition of key terms.
Finally, each student is at a different stage of their research process. For example, I haven’t been able to really start the research process yet, while others are almost done. Therefore, I also indicated the next steps of my research process of my poster. The whole event is set up like a gallery and takes about two hours during which faculty, family members, guests, and other students can walk around, look at the different posters, and ask questions. It was definitely a valuable experience having to explain my research to others, many of them not familiar with dance/movement therapy or interpersonal neurobiology. It showed me what I have to work on and also brought up questions, which I will have to clarify for myself.
Traditionally, Columbia College Chicago markets Manifest as an urban arts festival, which showcases the work of current and graduating Columbia students. The Department of Creative Arts Therapies organized its own little Manifest, in which the graduating class can say goodbye to each other and to the program.
This year we decided to split the event into three parts. The first part was only open to my cohort, and we shared little things of appreciation and said goodbye to each other. The second part was a department-created dance show designed to say goodbye to faculty and staff and to share the stage with each other for one last time. The third part was just mingling and eating together. The whole event was an emotional roller coaster of joy and sadness, and I still can’t believe that I won’t see all of us together anymore. Even weeks after the event, it still feels unreal.
Finally, on Saturday, May 14, I crossed the stage and received my (obviously empty) graduation folder. The whole day was so eventful and fast paced that it seems like a blur. Starting off with mine and my roommate’s family having breakfast in the morning, taking the train down to the Chicago River to take pictures, waiting in the basement of the Chicago Theatre for the ceremony to start, being the first to walk down the aisle to our seats in the first row, listening to all the Commencement speeches (including Jane Lynch’s), being hooded, crossing the stage and receiving my certificate, engaging in another marathon of group pictures, taking the train home, and having dinner with my family—it still feels like a dream.
Right now I am in this strange place of transition. We crossed the stage, but we are still not done. We said goodbye to each other, but most of us will be together in class at the end of July (for our final summer class), and we are also going on a cohort retreat mid-June. It is a strange, almost disorienting feeling. Fittingly, my parents bought me a necklace with a little compass symbol and a quote, stating: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” I guess a new journey starts here.