Being an online student at TKU, I wasn’t planning to go to graduation. I had a million reasons not to go. I didn’t know if anyone would come see me walk across the stage, and I felt like it wasn’t necessary. After all, I was taking my classes online from Hays, Kansas, so Southlake, Texas, was kind of far away. I was discouraged about it, so I told myself it’s not a big deal.
During my last semester in the Bachelor of Biblical Counseling program, Dr. Reid would ask who all was graduating and if we were coming to graduation. I was on Zoom and I would always say no and leave it at that. But a few days before the final, she put me on the spot and asked why I wasn’t coming. I felt comfortable about opening up because our class a pretty tight-knit group. Even though I was an online student, we developed friendships with each other during the semester. So during class a few days later when she told me that she and Dr. Hoover worked it out to fly me down for graduation, the response from my classmates was crazy. They were cheering! So I took off work and flew down. One girl picked me up from the airport, and I went shopping with some of my other classmates.
It seemed like everyone was taking time out of their days to meet me in person, offering to let me stay with them, take me places, and helping me get everything together. It was really special. It made me realize that even though I’m an online student these are real friendships and it felt like we had known each other for a long time.
I think TKU is a very relational school and I think it flows from the top down. At one point during the semester, several faculty members prayed for each student and they sent us emails about it. I’ve never heard of a university being so relational. It’s just so easy to connect with people, and even as an online student you feel like you’re part of the community.
When I finally got to the school for graduation, the coolest thing happened. Two of my friends from home surprised me by driving down to see me walk across the stage. I didn’t know what to expect and I thought I would be there by myself, but I felt like I was surrounded by friends the whole time. It was a really special day!