I graduated on Friday, August 8, 2014 with my Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. What a huge relief!

So many family members flew in and that was so wonderful. My grandparents, who have a lot of medical challenges, flew in from Colorado and that was more of a blessing than I can describe. I had my uncle fly in from up North, several aunts and uncles and cousin fly in from Colorado.. it was wonderful. I missed the family that couldn’t be there but understood.

Surrounding me on this day were the amazing people who helped me through these past two years.. we all helped each other really and supported each other. I had an amazing cohort. Some of the individuals who I still do consider in my cohort stayed in the program to get 12 additional hours toward another certification and I can’t wait to see them graduate in December!

One of the amazing staff members in my university’s Office of Disability Accommodations came, just as he did during undergrad, to walk the stage and make sure all was setup for me… this time I would be walking with Makiko. Last graduation, even though I was using a cane almost full-time, I decided not to use one to cross the stage because I just wanted it to be me. It was super helpful to have this staff member check the stage then. This time he really helped me figure out where to go, helped slow things down so that Makiko could get in the professional picture too, made sure that I didn’t face plant while coming down the deep steps off the stage — he was amazing.

The Hooding Ceremony prior to the graduation was very nice. It was only for our department and we got to really celebrate each of our accomplishments. My new boss was there so that was super cool, as she is a grad of our program too, as was my mentor at my work. Makiko was in Regalia for both the Graduation Ceremony and The Hooding. Naturally, people thought she was adorable and loved it!

My Daddy I’m sure is looking down from above right now very happy. He really wanted me to get my Masters Degree and was so supportive and encouraging. He passed away shortly after the conclusion of my first semester of grad school but he got to hear that I got all A’s and I’m so glad he did. I ended up making all A’s throughout the entire grad program! 🙂

What really did suck though was not being able to see him in the audience. Only two years ago today as I crossed the stage I could look up and see my Daddy in the stands, or as I sat there listening to the less-than-entertaining speakers, I could see my Daddy so happy and proud, along with the rest of my family. I couldn’t see him there this time. But I did have a very special part of him with me as I wore “the necklace.” I have an infinity necklace that means so much to me. When Dad passed away, he was cremated. My sister and I both chose to have a few of his ashes put inside a piece of jewelry for us to wear. I have vowed to wear this at my major life events so that he will physically be there with me and this really helps me through. The infinity symbol was always really cool to me but now it’s super special. Just as a quick side note, I chose the infinity symbol as the piece of jewelry for my Daddy necklace because my Dad’s love for me was infinite — it really was. He helped me through some of the toughest situations and always ALWAYS helped my friends too. Love him.

Graduation was a wonderful day and I spent the rest of the weekend celebrating with family and friends. I am so excited to be finished with my Master’s Degree (even though many professors have encouraged me to go back and get my PhD..) and am interested to see what I am going to find to do with this free time. (SLEEP!)

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Jessica N and Makiko

Jessica is a proud Texan. She graduated in 2014 with her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and is now employed. She is visually impaired and has a retinal disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. Originally Jessica started blogging about everything from being diagnosed with the disease to where she is now, almost 9 years later. Then, Jessica went to Guide Dogs for the Blind and was blessed with Makiko, her new guide dog. Now, her blog "The Way Eye See The World" is about everything related to visual impairments, including guide dogs.

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