Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August 14, 2015: Life Sciences Convocation

It was pretty surreal being back on that BYU campus with my girl, now on the other end of things. As hard as it was to wrench her from the nest and send her up there, I was so grateful she was there, having the experiences she was, and getting the education that I'd dreamed for her. Granted, she did finish in only three years, but still, it felt like the time whizzed by and then she was graduating! When I dropped her off three years ago, I still had a year of nursing school left. In fact, I held her face in my hands, there in front of the Maeser building, and said goodbye to her before I had to rush home to make it in time for my psych clinical registration.

Now, here we are.

In those three years, a lot has happened, for both of us. We have grown closer and leaned on each other, despite the miles between us. Lyndsay and I spoke on the phone or texted almost every day. I talked her through a lot of test and project anxiety, and cheered on her every success. I heard about every class, every teacher, every roommate, every crush/date/boyfriend/break up, every failed blood donation attempt, every successful plasma donation, and all the frustrations and successes as she grew and thrived. She let me be part of her life and I was privileged to be her cheerleader and advisor, but most importantly, her mother. I still checked up that she was wearing a warm enough coat and boots, that she was wearing her retainer, and that she was eating well. I counseled her to pray, to make time for her scriptures, and to make new friends. I don't know that she really needed me, but I sure gained strength knowing she was up there. We had a routine that I called her on my way to work every night and we'd chat for that twenty minute drive. She'd text me now and then through my shift after a date, or after a test. I prayed with her and for her before finals and presentations.

Now, she is a college graduate. She is a scientist! My daughter! My sweet baby girl. We survived!

This was a big day for Lyndsay, and for all of us. Lyndsay was not only chosen as an honored student by the Biology department for Bioinformatics, but she was also asked to be the opening speaker at the convocation.

She was so nervous, and felt a little undeserving. She knew there were honored students with higher GPAs. She didn't know why she was chosen. I told her that she must have something to say that someone needed to hear, and I really believe that. She was supposed to write her speech and then turn it in a week before for approval. She was up late one night, thinking of what to say. She said she asked herself whom she wanted to reach, and the thought came to her that it was Dylan. With that in mind, she started to write and the words just kept coming. Late into the night she wrote and then, unexpectedly, she realized that she had her speech! She submitted it and it was returned with no revisions and glowing approval.

But she wouldn't share any of it with me. I knew she was nervous, but also so excited. I could tell she had a quiet spirit of confidence about her message. We had to get there early for mic measurements and photos, and I caught her going over her speech for a few minutes.

Then she and Dylan gave my poor dad some instruction on taking pictures with his flip phone. Bless his heart.

We got our seats nice and early! Up as close as we could be, and front and center.

She wore her power red lipstick.

And finally it was time!

Lyndsay sat up on the stand with the faculty and five other honored students. There she is on the front row, all the way on the right.

She was the opening speaker. Adam filmed her speech, but I just wanted to sit and listen, focus, take in the moment. I have to say it was the proudest five minutes of my life. She was so calm and confident. Her message of hope through the power of God to overcome the challenges that our genetic inheritance presents us with was so encouraging and filled with the Spirit. I sat in absolute awe of her. She sounded so grown up! Her mind and spirit have been developed. She is evolving into a great thinker. She has had some life experience that has deepened her soul.

There she is! On the big screens all over the Marriott Center!

It was so moving. And yes, Dylan said he had goosebumps. We all did. And tears. She nailed it.

Shortly afterwards, the graduates were called by name to receive their diplomas. Sitting there in that arena was very emotional for me. It was my dream to attend BYU so many years ago. I was accepted and received a scholarship and made the decision to withdraw my admission in order to get married to Lyndsay's dad. I have always felt a little pang of regret that I didn't wait a bit longer in life to get married, that I didn't pursue my education first. I think my life has been harder because of those choices. But though I am satisfied with my choices to be a mother, and that has always been my most important dream and calling, I heartily believe in the need and importance of women receiving advanced education, and I raised Lyndsay (and her brothers!) with that drilled into her. Mothers can be more effective, more satisfied, and contribute more effectively when they have developed their minds. I know Lyndsay's primary goal is to also be a mother and to devote most of her time to raising children as well, but like I always told her, motherhood can be a lot of lonely time spent doing thankless tasks--you might as well have intelligent things to think about! She'll be a more interesting mother because of her education.

Here are some pictures that we took afterwards. Enjoy!

Lyndsay with five of her six brothers.

The white sash Lyndsay wore is called a Stole of Gratitude. Each graduate is supposed to present it to the person who helped them on their path in significant ways. Lyndsay presented hers to me, which meant so much. I love this girl!

Well done, my Lyndsay! Now on to bigger and better!


Megan said...

What a beautiful post! I had so wished they would have broadcasted it just so we could hear her speech. Your post did the experience justice! ;)

Jennifer said...

So beautiful! I hope to be at BYU with Manuela one day. :)