COLUMN: Here’s to four years at CSUSM


Kat Parra

Congratulations graduates for crossing the finish line and getting a degree despite a pandemic.

Kat Parra, Assistant A&E Editor

Dear Graduates,

While I don’t know your name, degree or experience, I know for a fact that what you are feeling today is an overwhelming sensation. After all these months, we swapped our pajama pants and messy looks for presentable attire. We walked early onto the field as we departed from our loved ones wishing us luck. We sat there. And waited. When we heard our names, we stepped onto that stage.

Get up. Walk. Stand. Smile. Leave. Our mental focus becomes limited to prevent us from messing up as we receive that diploma. While other students were desperate to rip off that tie and flee, you held on through the ceremony.

Over the past four years, I have been a Cougar. In the beginning, I was a bit reluctant to attend college, but CSUSM has taught me a lot. I learned that there is a place for me. My style, my passion and my preferences all have a home here. I am free to be me. 

This college bestowed us our voice and everything we have experienced has led us to today. Outside this campus, my voice will still stand. I have a choice and an opportunity to strive. So, I will be loud and make myself heard. I know for a fact there will always be evil in this world but it is on me to make a difference in how I see fit.

Now there is a real ticking clock on us. I am drained from the constant question: what are your plans after you graduate? Some know, others don’t. I have learned to be open. I have plans, substitute plans and backup plans. I am evolving and changing just as this world we live in is. After all, no one expected a pandemic. 

Throughout these four years, I have balanced my personal life with school. I have been dealing with my mother’s health for a long time. I am not alone. Many of us have faced food insecurity, assault, anxiety, stress and fear. 

But we have pushed forward. 

When dropping out felt like the answer, you stayed. When you failed that class, you stayed. And when I couldn’t take it anymore, I stayed. Each time difficulties came our way, we faced them head-on. 

To all our professors and educators that made a difference in our lives, thank you. Each email you replied to, every opportunity you gave to us, all the after-class lectures and moral support is much appreciated. And when we moved to a Zoom world, your enthusiasm still shined. While your students turned into names and photos on your screen, know that we appreciate your effort in educating us.

To all those that have supported our education financially or morally, where would we be without you? Even if it was ourselves that took us through college. We are eternally grateful for that sacrifice.

While I had my head clouded by life, school or work, you saw potential in me. Some of you awoke our passions with projects and assignments. Others helped us become better selves. Our parents encouraged us. Thank you Mom for your constant support. Whatever your role has been in our lives as students, know that it was a factor in our success today. 

Graduates, you have poured your heart into this degree. All those sleepless nights of never-ending assignments have paid off. While some of us do not see the value in a degree, it will come. A seed was planted on this campus when we accepted our intent to enroll. It was watered by our effort, pain and education. While there was uncertainty for that plant during the school years, be proud of it today, for you have blossomed. 

Now, we can breathe. We have crossed the finish line. Out there in the world, there will be a lot more. Each one of us will confront new challenges. Some of us will stray from our paths while others will forge on. Despite everything, CSUSM came together on the same path this May to congratulate our graduates. 

This pandemic may have set us back, but it did not stop us. We passed this finish line together. 

Sí se puede.  

Kat Parra is in her senior year here at CSUSM and majoring in art and technology. Since last semester, she has been assisting The Cougar Chronicle as a photographer and staff writer and she is currently serving as the Assistant A&E Editor. She enjoys sculpting, art, video design and spending time with family. She will be the first in her family to graduate from a four-year university.  Her inspiration is and always will be her mom.