Earlier this month, I had the honor of attending high school graduations for some of my clients. While I anticipated a lot of excitement and celebration, I learned a few new unexpected lessons as well. First, while I have always known that I love my work with students and families, I did not realize how I truly felt until I watched my students walking in their graduation ceremonies. It hit me, as it probably hit a lot of families, that this was it- the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Though I knew on some level these students would be graduating and moving on to college, nothing drove the point home as definitively as their names being called to receive their diplomas. Of course I saw my clients walk onto that stage, but I also saw them walk into my office for the 1st time, the late nights sitting side by side putting the finishing touches on applications before the submit button was anxiously pressed, moments when we were deep in conversation about what failure really means and why it is so important (a Common Application essay prompt), and other wonderful memories, especially those with lots of laughter.

I feel so lucky to have known the students who just graduated. Some had been at Popp & Associates for just a few months; others worked with us for years. Each student inspired me, challenged me, and made me work harder to be better, to be a better college counselor and to be a better person.

On that note, I discovered a second lesson while observing the younger siblings of the graduates. I sat next to 6-year-olds, 16-year-olds, and many in between. The looks on their faces were powerful and so full of emotion. Awe, admiration, respect, and sadness filled their eyes. They too recognized that a new chapter was beginning, and like all of us, had mixed feelings about turning the page. While my clients’ siblings may not have shared their true feelings with their big brothers and sisters, I certainly felt them sitting in their company. Regardless of our ages, all of us who came out to support and cheer on these graduates felt a deep pride and tremendous connection to the students dear to our hearts. Anyone at any age can and does feel, even if we may not share those feelings with others.

My students in the Class of 2014, as all before them, reminded me how blessed I am to have a job that I truly love. May our paths cross again soon. You will be missed.

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