From behind, a graduate with long dark hair and a graduation cap looks out on a colorful background. Original photo by Nirat.pix/Shutterstock.com. Photo transformation by Emerald Staff.

POETRY: Graduation Day

by Karina Quiroz


Today is not about the diplomas that we all get 

But about the journey we took to get these stoles around our neck 

We got dropped off with hopes, dreams, and uncertainty 

We leave with pain, love, growth, and agony

and probably too much information on astrology

The hardest part wasn’t failing a class we couldn’t believe 

but explaining the disconnect and depression to our family 

We painted the white walls of this institution with our passion

yet they still forget our names and somehow erase the accent 

I’ve been searching for validation for the last couple years

But each of my needs went through all my advisor’s ears

Have you ever seen their face when you wanna talk about social justice?

Forehead all crinkly, acting like they’re disgusted

“You need to calm down, you’re being too emotional”

“There you go with those comments, you’re so unapproachable”

What they don’t tell you is that they WISH they had your knowledge

One of those things they don’t tell you when you graduate college

This education system has never known what we’ve been about

Even as we hold our heads high trying not to drop out

You are the walking embodiment of all statistics in your odds 

Funny what some caffeine and late hours can cause 

Look at your degree and tell me what you see

Do you see your name alone?

Or your entire family?

Your backs must hurt from carrying all the weight 

Just the things we do to see our culture graduate 

But now you are an alumn, something they promised you would never be

Now fuck this institition cuz we finaly got our degree


Karina Quiroz is poet and a graduate of Western Washington University who loves to cook. She grew up in Burien and attended school in Mexico. She currently lives in Federal way.

📸 Featured Image: Original photo by Nirat.pix/Shutterstock.com. Photo transformation by Emerald Staff.

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