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Crossing the graduation stage

By Meital Caplan
June 23, 2017

Ivelise Ochoa is a OneGoal Alumnae.

Last month I graduated from North Park University. I still relive every moment. There was so much going on, from having the honor of walking the Chicago flag into the ceremony, to having my every other thought be “Don’t trip in those heels!” Going up on stage to place the Chicago flag to launch the graduation ceremony gave me for a brief second a unique viewpoint where I could look out and see all of my fellow graduates surrounded on both sides by families and loved ones that had come to celebrate this special accomplishment. Seeing that, it really hit me that I made it and that all of those days of crying, stressing, and temporarily questioning if school was a waste of time had really paid off in order to have this moment.

Moments later I found myself on that graduation stage again, this time to receive my diploma. The moment of physically receiving my diploma went by too fast. In an instant, I went from being a student to a graduate and a professional. It was at that moment that I flashed back to my high school graduation and realized how dramatically I have changed. In high school I cared so much about fitting in, constantly feeling like I wasn’t a part of the crowd. In college, my focus wasn’t on fitting in, rather it was a time to find myself and the person I wanted to become. In college teachers don’t stay on top of what you’re doing so it’s on you to make sure you succeed.

College taught me to depend on myself.

Thankfully, I had OneGoal to help prepare me for college. I laugh now when I think about how I much I just wanted to text and tune out my OneGoal Program Director’s lectures in high school. Thank God I did pay attention because OneGoal gave me that first taste of what college would be like, including writing monstrous 20-page papers!

Still, while OneGoal gave me that first step on the graduation stage, I’m the one that got me across it.

In looking at my future, I’m proud and excited to set out on a career as a middle school social studies and drama teacher at Midwestern Christian Academy here in Chicago. I always imagined myself with younger kids, but things don’t always turn out the way you expect. I mean, who would have thought the girl who hated writing papers in high school would be graduating with a degree in English and Creative Writing? Not me! So I hope my teaching career has more of these unexpected turns because if they’re anything like the last six years, they’re going to keep me growing for the better.

MORE: Alums, Chicago