It’s not that big of a deal.

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I’ve been telling people for months now that graduation isn’t that big of a deal to me. It was something I was always supposed to do. I did not want to participate in graduation, take pictures or send announcements. Now that the day has come and gone I realize it’s so much more than that.

In 2015 my cousin was murdered. It was right before his senior year of high school and we were all obviously heartbroken. I was stuck for a really long time because I didn’t feel right going on with my life when his ended so abruptly. It took a lot a time, a lot of tears and counseling to pick myself up. My counselor advised me to take a medical leave of absence and I was considering not coming back at all.

I usually don’t talk about this time in my life because it was painful, but it was also very transformative. I had no choice but to look inside myself and find the strength to continue. I am proud of myself for not giving up and not being too prideful to ask for help when I needed it. I appreciate my friends and family staying by my side every step of the way, a special shout out to Casey who made the 20-minute walk to my dorm as much as she could to make sure I was eating.

This degree isn’t for me, it’s for him. My quiet, handsome cousin who loved basketball more than anything. Who thought about moving down to Ohio with me. I finished strong because he didn’t get the chance to and I’ll be screaming Carhri World until my last breath. Losing someone close to you is hard, and that pain never gets better but knowing I have someone watching over me makes the bad days a little easier.

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