success story from a student

Some happy news to end the week on.

A reader writes:

I discovered your blog from a Buzzfeed article almost 2 years ago and I’ve been reading daily ever since – it’s my favourite thing to do when I take lunch breaks, and I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been times I desperately wanted to write in about my own work issues! I recently got some wonderful news though that I thought might be nice to hear amongst what I imagine is an inbox full of bad news. Even if you don’t post it, I thought it would be a way to bring a smile to someone’s face during a time when it can be difficult to do so, especially when what you do has certainly brought me many smiles!

I’m graduating this year and I started applying to grad schools last semester. I wasn’t expecting much anymore because my acceptance was based on funding from companies and with everything going on I figured all those opportunities would more or less immediately dry up. So imagine my surprise when out of the blue, I was contacted by the head of the department I was applying to about considering their lab for a MSc! I replied with an idea for a project that would allow me to work under them and the original professor I applied to and they seemed interested in it, we spoke on the phone once, and I received an offer from the both of them this week! I’m still in shock honestly as this all happened in the span of barely a week (literally, there’s no exaggeration there), but I’m SO excited that in 4 months I’ll be starting a project of my own design, in a field I’ve always been passionate about, and at an internationally acclaimed university in a gorgeous city!

It sucks that I can’t do anything to celebrate such a wonderful thing, on top of already not being able to celebrate graduating a degree I’ve worked my butt off for and not being able to properly say goodbye to some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and likely won’t see again. I’ve seen SO many posts about people griping on students for being sad about that, and I hope more people are realizing how unfair that is, as if they were in our positions I guarantee they would be upset too. Regardless, this is my small way of celebrating – telling someone I’ve never met but love what they do what’s happened – and I really hope that being sent some good news can brighten your day a little bit! :)

Congratulations, letter writer! You did good. And if anyone else wants to send in good news, I’ll happily share it.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 67 comments… read them below }

  1. Junior Dev*

    Congratulations OP!

    And it’s ok for you to feel sad about the ways your graduation and wrapping up of school have been disrupted. There’s a reason it’s traditional to have a ceremony, various official and unofficial events, and other more-or-less formalized ways of transitioning from school to not-school (or a different school in your case). For several years most of your social and professional life has been tied up in this one institution and you don’t have that anymore, and it’s ok to be sad about that in general, and extra sad that you don’t have access to the things people usually do to ease that transition.

    Maybe think about what would be meaningful to you — writing emails or sending cards to the professors and fellow students you worked with most closely; putting together some sort of blog post or photo album online; making a scrapbook for yourself. It can’t replace the stuff you’re missing out on but this time period in your life deserves to be honored if that’s what you want to do.

    1. Sue*

      My friends, (parents with grown kids) and I have all been feeling terrible for school Seniors at every level. We remember well the importance of all the Sr year activities and we commiserate with all of you so much.
      Some schools are trying to plan for alternative events that will help a bit but obviously, it won’t be the same.
      To all Seniors out there: I’m so sorry! And I absolutely do not not minimize your loss.
      And to LW: I’m sorry but also, that is great news and when you get your graduate degree, celebrate to the moon and back.

      1. Who the eff is Hank?*

        My cousin is a high school senior and he’s had a tough go of it (lost his primary parent suddenly and ended up with an uninvolved caretaker). My heart breaks that he doesn’t get to celebrate his graduation or take his long-term girlfriend of 6 years to prom.

    2. Stephanie*

      I totally agree. I think it’s perfectly ok to be sad about missing commencement. It’s a celebration of your accomplishments and one of the last time you get together with college friends. I know people sometimes opt out of it, but usually that’s a choice.

      I remember I was on the fence about going to my MS graduation and my parents are like “Nope, we’re coming. We already got plane tickets.” And I remember it being a fun weekend because I got to show my parents all the restaurants and places I discovered during class. Plus, it was nice to introduce my parents to some of my friends. My MS thesis advisor, who is a notorious hard ass, even turned into a giant softie and gave me a giant hug at commencement.

      I think you can both be sad that it won’t happen and understanding why it’s not happening.

    3. Congratations*

      Those are lovely suggestions, Junior Dev. Also, congratulations LW! We are so happy to hear this news, and rejoicing with you from afar. I hope that you will find your own sweet way to celebrate until the due time!

      1. MtnLaurel*

        Congratulations! And thank you for sharing your great’s a much needed bright light for me.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      Congratulations, OP on your accomplishments!

      These are excellent suggestions from Junior Dev. While you’re understandably disappointed about how your graduation is disrupted, it can be powerful to create something else that feels meaningful to you. Reaching out to the people you’ve connected with and appreciate will no doubt mean the world to them.

    5. OP*

      Oh trust me I’ve sent lots of emotional emails to the professors who’ve helped me – straight up crying my eyes out writing a couple of them haha! I also have photo albums for every year of university, and I plan on printing all the photos I can from this year and even printing out meaningful emails/messages to tuck inside haha!

  2. Philly Redhead*

    Congratulations, OP! FWIW, I think you have every right to be sad at missing out on graduation and saying goodbye to friends.

    1. AGD*

      I’m a faculty member and I completely agree. I had a wonderful college experience and it was hard enough saying goodbye when it was on schedule and with all the festivities I’d been envisioning for years!

      1. MtnLaurel*

        Oh, I know I would have been devastated as well if this had happened in my senior year of college.

  3. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

    Many congratulations! So nice to read about your hard work and perseverance paying off for you!

  4. Cj cregg*

    This is awesome news! Congrats LW!

    I’m sorry that you are unable to celebrate it with you college friends…I know that must be difficult. I went to college, but didn’t graduate. I did, however, work commencement each year so I understand what it means to the students who walk each year. It is super important and I feel terrible for those who aren’t going to be able to have this milestone. I hope that you are able to celebrate this achievement with your loved ones in some way that makes it meaningful to you.

  5. Courtney Kupets*

    Something I’ve repeated so many times when I see those kinds of judgements: You can be upset and disappointed and still know that it’s the right thing to happen. Also, the “at least you…” You can recognize benefits of your situation while also feeling bad. If none of those celebrations or events mattered, then people wouldn’t bother to have them.

    Congrats LW!!! I am years into my career and I enjoy AAMA on my lunchbreak too :)

  6. OrigCassandra*

    Congrats OP!

    My shop is doing its best to provide a graduation experience for our soon-to-be graduates. Of course it won’t be the same, but I hope it’s something pleasant in a rough time.

    The next time we’re permitted to hold an in-person ceremony, we’ve already made clear that this year’s graduates and their loved ones are invited also. Again, imperfect, because not everyone can travel, but it’s what little we can do.

  7. Megumin*

    Congrats, OP! That sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    It’s totally okay to be sad about missed milestones, and not getting to say goodbye in-person to people who mean a lot to you. I was sad that my daughter didn’t get to have her 5-year birthday party with all her day care friends, because she was so excited about it. Mourning missed milestones or important events in our lives doesn’t mean that we’re entitled and ignorant to the suffering of others, or the severity of the crisis.

    Good luck with your project and please update us later on!

  8. AnyaT*

    Many congratulations! And my sympathies about not getting to celebrate your graduation. I went back to school and completed a masters degree last year, and I was so excited to celebrate. I would have been massively disappointed if this had happened as well.
    Enjoy your new career!

  9. Product Person*

    Thank you for sharing, OP!

    May this be an example for people feeling stuck in a toxic job or unemployment and thinking, why bother.

    While the circumstances are difficult at the moment, I keep hearing from friends who where laid off and got a new job in a week, get offers for post-grad positions, and more. Not giving up and keeping a positive stance like OP’s can truly pay off.

  10. Another academic*

    Yea! As long as we are sharing good news in these times. I just found out that even though raises were frozen and yes there will be furloughs, I will still be promoted to Full this year and receive and increase. I believe it is because the promotion actually happened earlier in the New Year even though it isn’t official until the new fiscal and that there were just a handful therefore not a big impact on the next budget. I had zero expectations that this would go through and I am grateful.

  11. Noblepower*

    Congratulations and thank you, LW, for sharing your good news with us. I realize this in no way replaces the celebration you would have had if not for COVID19, but I will have a solitary dance party on your behalf. :-)

  12. HailRobonia*

    Yes! I love to hear success stories! Congratulations OP and thank you for sharing this!

  13. FormerFed*

    I’m on the job market for the first time in… 13 years?! I started applying to positions about three weeks ago, and have my first interview (for a great-looking role) on Monday!

  14. Gingerblue*

    Congratulations! That’s amazing news, and you sound really on the ball to be able to immediately come back with a project proposal. You’re going to do amazing!

    Don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn’t be sad about missing things; of course you should. Some people just cope with life by desperately looking for a way to feel superior.

  15. J.B.*

    Congratulations! This is hard. We should be happy for good news and sad for hard things. Finishing grad school is not at all what I expected but I will finish!

  16. Thankful for AAM*

    Congrats! Do write to profs or other who helped you on your journey to let them know. Even if you never see them again, they will love hearing your news.

    If we are sharing good news, I got first place in a professional journal publication’s feature story competition. I had no idea they had such a competition or that it would include a cash prize! AAM readers might be interested in the topic; workplace bullying in my field. Spoiler alert: it is not well studied in my specific field but there is a lot of it.

    1. AGD*

      Professor here – couldn’t agree more. Little notes from students about how they’re doing are always welcome, and good news like this just makes my day. Back in my own college days, I dramatically underestimated how proud I’d be of my own students by this point.

      Congratulations to OP (and to you, Thankful!) and to everyone sharing wonderful news here!

  17. Re'lar Fela*

    I’m in tears (it’s been a rough week). I’m SO SO happy for you!!! Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing! And yes, anyone else who has good news to share, please do.

  18. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    CONGRATULATIONS! I remember being thrilled/shocked/excited/alltheemotions when I finally graduated and was accepted to grad school (and FINISHED grad school–phew!). Despite not being able to properly celebrate right now, savor and delight in that feeling of accomplishment, and treat yourself to something fun as you can along the way. I hope your grad school experience is everything you hope it will be!!!

  19. Jean (just Jean)*

    OP, congratulations on your graduation and your acceptance into grad school! May your education continue to bring you good news and entry into good experiences!
    You showed real consideration by reaching out to share your good news in hopes of cheering up at least one complete stranger. Hold onto that impulse. Self-care is important, recognizing and honoring sad events as well as happy ones is important, and doing unto others as a way of cheering up others, plus oneself, is also important. Just keep it all balanced. Hugs, if you want them, from this internet stranger. I think you will continue to make the world a better place.

    1. OP*

      Thank you so much, that’s so kind! Hopefully more people will do little things to brighten days, even if it’s just an extra meaningful thank you to a worker!

    1. OP*

      I think that’s an awesome idea! Maybe it could be called the “Vaccine Thread” as a pun since it would “protect” against negativity

  20. The Messy Headed Momma*

    Congratulations on your happy news!! Use it wisely, Soldier!! All of here are super proud of you!!

  21. lazy intellectual*

    Congrats, OP! I needed to hear news like this more than I thought I did. This letter is very sweet, too.

  22. TPS reporter*

    Pain and stress during this crisis is not a zero sum game. We can all be affected to different degrees and in different ways. I’m sorry this special time was taken away and happy for your triumph! Best wishes.

  23. Spice for this*

    Thank you for writing in and sharing your great news. I am happy for you.

  24. OP*

    Thank you so much for all the kind words everyone! Not gonna lie, teared up a little reading all of them… :) it’s really appreciated that you took the time to congratulate, it really means a lot!

    I hope you’re all safe, healthy, and relatively happy during this time!!

  25. Not So NewReader*

    Congratulations, OP. I think your story is a great example of “keep trying anyway”. I hope people are feeling some inspiration and a nudge to just make an attempt at some of their life goals.

    And OP, kinda fun to think about a bunch of strangers reading here and cheering your achievement. Not a replacement for a party with friends and family for sure. But definitely a unique way of celebrating that you can treasure.

    1. OP*

      Thank you!! It’s actually been a lot more therapeutic than I thought! My friends have all congratulated me with lots of energy of course, but since they’ve known about the process that it’s been, it’s hitting different because you’re all strangers and reacting for the first time to the news – plus not to mention seeing other people’s replies with their own good news is amazing and makes this whole thread feel like a warm hug! :)

    2. OP*

      Thank you, your words are so appreciated!

      Surprisingly, the whole strangers-cheering aspect is what makes all these kind messages and reassurances extra special as it’s truly demonstrating the good in everyone’s hearts! And seeing everyone reply with their own achievements both recent and older makes this whole thread feel like a warm hug for the heart :)

  26. MissDisplaced*

    Aw! I’d be sad too if I were graduating high school or college this year and not being able to participate in those rites of passage and celebrations. I was upset about my vacation being canceled in March,

    I’m happy you got such good news. There ARE bright spots in trying times still.

  27. Djuna*

    Congrats, OP! That’s wonderful news, and I’m so glad Alison helped you shout it from the (virtual) rooftops and brighten all of our days.

    I get it about graduation too, it’s an emotional milestone as well as an educational one. It must feel so weird to have the ceremony just go “poof!” when you did the hard work and earned it. It’s one of those things where not being alone in it almost feels even stranger.

    I hope you and your college friends find a way to come together when things are quasi-normal again to celebrate!

  28. GraduatingToo*

    Congratulations! I understand how you feel about graduating. I will complete my MBA in two weeks and am finding it difficult that I won’t be able to celebrate. I wish you the best of luck!

  29. kmcm the WonderMuppet*

    Congratulations Letter Writer! I hope this new endeavor leads to more and more personally designed projects for you!
    It brought a smile to my face, even though i’m just an imaginary internet person, and i know others will be happy with you as well!

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