My first time taking classes at Cal Poly was in 2008, but I stopped attending regularly in 2012. I spent a couple years embracing the identity of being a Computer Science dropout, living at home, and working odd jobs. Time rekindled my desire to have a degree, and in 2016 I began completing the requirements I had left. So I was accompanied by a feeling of slight disbelief when I found myself flying back to California — to graduate as part of the class of 2018.

The ceremony had the desired effect of making my graduation feel like a reality:

  • The caps
  • The gowns
  • The fold-out chairs
  • The astroturf
  • The streamer cannons
  • The speeches
  • And the Cal Poly band

The commencement speaker was Andrew Jassy, the CEO of AWS (Amazon’s cloud computing service). It seemed to fit the occasion that the key message I took away from his speech was patience, especially in regards to my upcoming career.

The Computer Science department also held a smaller, more intimate ceremony. The professors’ faces lit up with big smiles when they saw me. Over the years, they had observed me in and out of their halls. Every student had a chance to talk into the mic. When my turn came, I thanked the advising center for sending me that initial email in 2016 asking me to return. I thanked Cal Poly for keeping my credits around for 10 years. I thanked my parents and grandparents for supporting me throughout the entire journey.

After the ceremony, my family treated me to a California steakhouse. I ordered the biggest, best-tasting steak I’ve ever had. I couldn’t finish it, so I ate more for dinner the following night. But I couldn’t even finish it then either, and I ended up leaving the last piece of steak behind.

I felt like I was leaving a part of my heart behind in California too. Maybe one day I’ll be back. For now, I’m looking forward to spending some time in Illinois. Playing lots of music, and spending time with my friends and family. I want to become more involved in the local tech scene. And finally, I want to continue blogging, because this is an adventure worth sharing.


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