MARI KATHERINE RAFTOPOULOS

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MARI KATHERINE RAFTOPOULOS

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: A ticket to dream

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— Two years ago, I was dressed in a one size fits all white graduation gown. Two years ago, I was the girl waving to my family in the stands of the Moffat County High School gymnasium as I received my diploma.

And two years ago, I cried when I became an MCHS alumna. As we tossed our hats up in the air my tassel was still attached, attached to the idea of the past four years.

On Saturday, I arrived late to the graduation ceremony. As I wove in and out of the band members, colored desk chairs and music stands, I was slightly embarrassed because after two years, I still was tardy.

In reality, my late arrival to the ceremony was due to numerous outfit changes. But in my mind, it was just a reminder to high school faculty that even though I am 1,000 miles away, I still would hold the tardy record. This record is not something I am proud of, but it is a part me that still holds true since the day I graduated. And a part of me that reminds me of my high school career.

I came back expecting to feel those same emotions of attachment. I came back to the graduation ceremony after finishing my sophomore year in college with an expectation. An expectation of a yearning to return back to the simplicity and freedom I had felt when I sat in those chairs volleying the beach ball back and forth between the boys on the opposite side.

Graduation day is the one day that every person is allowed to be themselves and allowed to see their dream. It is the day where the reputation you once had in high school is erased and you are no longer the class clown, the star athlete, the teacher's pet or the homecoming queen.

You are "the graduating class of 2006." Or whichever class you are a graduate of.

One is given the diploma as a ticket. This ticket could be a flight to the east coast college you plan to attend in the fall. This ticket could be a job interview. This ticket could be an acceptance into the military.

But this ticket is freedom. Like the flight attendant who rips half of your airline ticket as you pass through the gate, so will the hardships in life. The difficulties of life will take a piece of your ticket and take a piece of your dream. But no matter how many pieces are taken away from you, as long as you always have a little piece of this ticket in your pocket, the dream is still yours.

With this, ironically my dress had pockets on it. Whether it is the new trend or a sign I could not tell you. But as I reached into my pocket aside from the gym wrappers and Chap Stick there was a ticket stub. Although it was the washed remainder of a raffle ticket from Vegas two weeks ago, it was a reminder of the progress I had made since I graduated.

A reminder that my ticket was no longer my high school diploma, but a plane ticket to Madrid, Spain, a summer internship and a resume.

And the yearning for freedom and simplicity that I expected to feel when I returned this year for graduation was replaced with satisfaction.

The satisfaction that I still owned my dream.

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