Sunday, May 12, 2013


I am officially a lawyer.

My weekend was consumed by graduation ceremonies & celebrations. Some people that I wish could've been there didn't make it. Others made great efforts to make my celebration as special as possible. My sister-by-choice flew here from the other side of the globe, just to mark my milestone, and I got to spend time with both long-time & recently made friends. Overall it was wonderful & memorable.

Friday night was the American Indian Academic Achievement Celebration, where all the Native graduates are honored and presented with a custom made stole (the red one in the photo). Of all the ceremonies, this is the one that meant the most to me. Perhaps that seems counter intuitive, since the law degree was the primary objective, and the Master's was sort of an afterthought. However, some of the faculty are the same one that were in the department the first time I was in college.

Back in the late 90s, I was a Native American Studies major as an undergrad. I had to drop out
while I was pregnant with my oldest son because I was simply too ill to go to class. At that time I thought I would return to school the next semester. However, near the end of my pregnancy, my then husband got a new job. We relocated when the baby was two days old.

I was able to return to school as a distance student. However, because of the limitations on how many degree programs are practical to provide in an online format, I had to change my degree plan. While I was glad to earn a degree, I always missed the program that I had left. The area of study had been of great interest to me and the staff had been immensely supportive. No other program that I tried was ever quite the same.

So, when I learned that the law school had a joint degree program that would allow me to return NAS and receive a Master's, without adding time in school, I jumped at the chance. I can sincerely say that my connections in the NAS department contributed greatly my success in law school. The staff was encouraging and kept me going when I felt too overwhelmed by balancing my family and all the issues that I have lamented in previous blog posts, among others. For that reason, it meant a lot to have a special ceremony with the people that meant so much to me and my success.

Later Friday evening was the university wide Commencement. I was honored to carry the Cheyenne & Arapaho flag for the processional. Afterward, I got to have a wonderful evening spending time with some amazing friends.

Saturday morning was the law school hooding ceremony. It felt wonderful to walk across the stage, and be formally pronounced a lawyer. [The blue stole is for earning a certificate in Indian Law & the honor cords are for working more than 100 pro bono hours.]

I was prepared for the good emotions but I wasn't expecting the bittersweet. In the middle of the ceremony, I had a flash of a memory from a few years before, when my wasband and I were discussing what that moment would be like. We had planned for this for years. When I was accepted to law school, we made a plan on how to make it happen...and we talked about how amazing it would be for him & our children to watch me walk across that stage. So, for a brief moment, I felt a bit of the heaviness of realization about how much my life has changed in a few short years.

I started law school with a husband & 3 kids. The husband was gone within, quite literally, a matter of weeks. Since then, two children have been added to my household. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I miss my wasband. At this point, because of all that's happened, I wouldn't take him back even if he asked. Admittedly, though, I do miss having someone to really share life with. However, that isn't what was bothering me. What got me was the ever present realization that, as much as it hits me at
times, it is an even more looming reality in the lives & minds of my kids. The Bigs are hurt a lot by the fact that he chooses to largely be absent from their lives. Lil Sis is heavily grieving the absence of the former foster fathers who have chosen to have no contact. It seems like I'm always trying to pick up the pieces of shattered children who have been hurt by the childish behavior of grown men & it gets to me at time...but that's a different post. Seriously, it's a miracle that I don't need to be medicated. ;)

Anyhow...back to the graduation stuff...Saturday evening, my sister-by-choice & I marked the occasion by getting tattoos together. I got "Esq."...because it's not official until you get the title permanently inked on.


  1. Congratulations! I love the tat!!

  2. I am SO proud of you. I got a little misty reading this post and just want to give you a hug! YOU DID IT! IT IS AWESOME!