It wasn't until 7:20 AM, that I finally checked out of my dormitory. I reluctantly handed over my room key to my RCA, making sure to thank her for all she had done for me. After gathering all of my belongings I took a moment to take in the sight off my now empty dorm room. I had a number of interesting experiences in Risley Hall-from the fire alarm incident to the Saturday night party-and seeing my room's barren walls made me realize just how much I had come to love the building and everyone in it.
After checking out, I made my way downstairs and towards Mr. Chan-Law's car, with Rochelle following suit not long after. We later picked up Michelle from her dormitory and together we drove to Ithaca Airport, where we checked in our bags and printed out our boarding passes.
Next came the worst part of the day, saying goodbye to everyone. I tearfully said my farewells and well wishes to my classmates, taking as many pictures and giving as many hugs as I possible could. In total, I think I cried about four or five times during that short 45 minutes period, each time harder and louder than the last.
My graduation began at 10:00 AM and continued on through 11:00 AM. The event consisted of the usual fanfare, Mark called us up one by one by group, shaking our hands and bestowing upon us our diplomas. As an added bonus, we were also given lamented copies of our final CHESS Reports, albeit ungraded. Afterwards, we were treated to surprise speeches and presentations from several of our classmates, including Michelle and her group. To close the graduation, the TAs showed us their final project-a slideshow consisting of a series of all the photographs-both posed and candid-they had taken throughout the course. Some were heartwarming, such as the our first group photos and others were rather embarrassing, like the pictures of students sleeping during class. The slideshow was very touching and adorable, so much that I began crying as soon the first reel began to play.
Once the Freedom and Justice graduation met it conclusion, we all gathered at the Statler Hotel for lunch at Taverna Banfi. I enjoyed a full three course meal, with Swedish meatballs and muscles for my appetizers, a filet for my entree, and a cookie platter for my dessert. I was happy to be able to enjoy my final meal in Ithaca at the Statler, as it provided a fitting end to my time in the Hotel Operations program.
With lunch over with, we returned to Ithaca Airport. Following a two hour wait, we finally boarded our plane for a 45 minute flight, followed by a one hour layover in Philadelphia. I spent the following six hour flight to San Francisco Airport sleeping, chatting, and reminiscing about the past few weeks.
Our arrived plane arrived a half hour early, but luckily my mother had already long since arrived. Once everyone had collected their luggage, we went onto take a group picture and say our goodbyes before finally parting ways.
You're familiar the old cliche "you never know the true value of something until it's gone," right? Well, I've never known this expression to be so until now, as I never realized how much I gave grown to love Summer College until it was already over. I'm going to miss everyone so much; from my instructors, to my classmates, and of course, my cohort. I had such a wonderful time with them that it's hard to believe that it's already over. If there's anything I plan on doing for the rest of this summer, it's keeping in touch with my new friends; Reneta taught us was not only the importance of fostering bonds, but also maintaining them. I plan on taking this advice to heart and keeping close tabs with everyone. And who knows, maybe one day we'll be reunited at Cornell University once again.