When I came to Montclair State University, one of the many things I was excited about was a fresh academic start. I never lived up to my full potential in high school and now I was given a clean slate and every opportunity to change my academic history.
I never intended to maintain a perfect GPA, because as I said earlier I had never lived up to my full academic potential and hadn’t received grades that would’ve fit that standard.
But low and behold I finished my first semester of college, taking six classes, with a perfect 4.0 GPA. This inspired me to maintain that perfect start throughout my next three and a half years. From the end of that fall semester in 2018, it was my mission to graduate with academic honors.
To graduate with honors is no small feat. To achieve my degree with honors, I’ve had many mental breakdowns, sleepless nights and even had to produce 13 edits of a video package just to get it done perfectly.
To graduate with honors is a tremendous accomplishment. We’ve worked for four years to hear our Latin honors acknowledged as we walk across the stage. This has been something I’ve been looking forward to since I was nine years old.
In 2010, I attended my cousin’s college graduation. I was young and so in awe of the caps and gowns with all the pretty cords and tassels. As students walked across the stage, their names were read aloud followed by whoops and cheers.
Some students had other words follow their names; “Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude”.
Me, being my innocent and impressionable nine-year-old self said to my grandma, “Wow Bella, this Cum Laude family had a lot of kids go here.” My grandma burst out into laughter at me mistaking their academic honors for their last name.
Since that day, we still joke about that ‘Cum Laude family’. Throughout college, my grandma kept me in check, always asking, “Are you still on track to join that family?” This was her way of nicely asking if I had fallen off the wagon academically. To which I always replied, “Yeah Bella, I’m gonna be their newest member.”
Now fast forward to my graduation in 2022, where I am expecting to join the family; as my name is read while I walk across the stage, followed by the highest level of academic honors I worked so hard for. Only to find out that for some reason, Montclair State is not following the precedent of other colleges and forgoing reading aloud our honors.
A tassel and an asterisk in the program are what they feel acknowledge our hard work and sacrifices over the last four years. That is not enough.
We deserve to have our honors read aloud as we walk across the stage for all to hear. Those two or three words mean so much and validate the effort we put into our degrees. There is no excuse not to read them aloud.
Read them aloud for those who are first-generation college students and whose families are extremely proud and want to hear their honors.
For those who supported themselves through school and maintained a stellar academic standing and now are excited to acknowledge that.
For those who have loved ones who are passed on but who are listening as they walk.
For those like myself, who have handicapped grandmothers that cannot attend their ceremony and will be anxiously watching the live stream to hear their granddaughter join the ‘Cum Laude family’.
We deserve to hear our honors and we deserve to hear them boisterously.