Happy Graduation Day, Raiders! A Student Sound-Off Published May 11, 2018

Katie Duer is graduating from Rose State College with an Associate Degree in Mass Communication.Happy Graduation Day, Raiders! Katie Duer is graduating today with an Associate Degree in Mass Communication. We asked her to share her thoughts about graduating and what her time at Rose State meant to her. See what she had to say:

Graduation--a time of celebration filled with nervousness for the unknown and excitement for the future. Graduation symbolizes one door closing and life making way for another door to open. Sometimes bittersweet, graduation is a celebration of achievements and a time to reflect on the journey that brought you to this special time. No two journeys are alike and as I look back at the journey that brought me to this point, I feel a sense of pride and hope for what is to come.

My journey is filled with forward steps as well as steps backward. Much like the Cha-cha, but less glamorous. Being a non-traditional student gives you a certain perspective, almost an expectation for yourself to not only succeed but to make your own way. I came back to college after a ten-year hiatus. During that ten-year period, I had moved from Texas to Oklahoma, back to Texas and back to Oklahoma again. I had given birth to a little girl and was in such a transitional place in my life--I was searching for solid ground, searching for a foundation from which to start building.

I was plagued with student loan debt from my previous college experience and had had ten years to wallow in failures from my adolescence. I didn’t know that I actually had the willpower or the means to return to college, yet I was met with open arms. Rose State College accepted me, beckoned me and eventually became more of a home to me than the university I had attended right out of high school. If I could make any recommendation or provide a warning, it would be to start small and build.

My experience has been one of such authenticity. The opportunities that I have been given, the generosity I have been shown, the wonderful people I have met who have been beside me to celebrate the victories and mourn the losses have all been such an integral part of my journey. I am overflowing with gratitude and pride as well as hope. I have been a walking example of the words “it is never too late" and "never give up.” All of these clichés are music to my ears today. As I walk across the stage today with my fellow students, who have won this battle with me, we will celebrate and move on to our futures, to wherever each of our destinies take us. No other words have ever been truer: GOING SOMEWHERE STARTS HERE.