Ready for her next adventure: South of 20 writer looks ahead after graduating from St. Ambrose

Posted Online: May 17, 2013, 9:30 am
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By Sara Clifton,
The most exciting, memorable and important moments happen in the blink of an eye. That's why photos and videos are so important.

I graduated a week ago today, number 224 out of nearly 700 graduates from St. Ambrose University in Davenport. It all went by so quickly.

College is over and I can't believe it.After my classmates and I received our diplomas, I thought about what these two years at St. Ambrose felt like. These two years changed my life, and gave me best friends I hope to have for the rest of my life. These last two years went by too quickly.

I'd like to think I squeezed every ounce of life out of the two years I spent at Black Hawk College in Moline before my two years at St. Ambrose. I'll admit I was pretty busy, but I never was overwhelmed.

While I was a full-time student at St. Ambrose, I also worked part-time at WQAD, had two freelance gigs with South of 20 and Mediacom's MC22 productions of local sporting events, was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Buzz, and wrote, filmed, directed and anchored for the school television station, SAUtv.

Between all of those things, I honestly can say I loved going to school every day. There always was something to be excited about, always something to learn and I always had great people beside me.

Leaving those people, my "second family," was and is the hardest part of moving on. We worked together for hours on projects, challenged each other and grew together.They always will be a part of me and I hope I'll always be a part of them.

For at least the last month, I had a hard time accepting that most everyone would be moving away. As we lined up for the commencement procession, I gave everyone at least three "goodbye" hugs because I was worried I wouldn't see them after the ceremony. And yes, I cried a little. They've all come to know me as the crier in our class. Happy, sad, good, bad -- just bring the tissues for Sara.

They knew it was coming.

Thankfully, I saw everyone I needed to see, and I took pictures with each of them to hold me over until I see them again.

The photos soon will be added to the massive scrapbook I've been creating over the past six months. All of my favorite St. Ambrose memories reside there, tucked into more than 200 pages.

They illustrate newspaper meetings, television story scripts, President Barack Obama's Davenport visit last fall (complete with official White House press passes), department gatherings, a journalism convention in Chicago, an impromptu trip to the Field of Dreams, the Iowa Broadcast News Association awards, live television productions and more, and now, graduation.

The walk to get my diploma took only 30 seconds, and now, it's all a blur. I'm so thankful I have pictures and a video of the moment to relive in the years to come.

I'll look to them when I miss my friends who have moved to Chicago, New York City and Georgia. My friends and I will look at them together in the future. And, I'll certainly look at them with my children and grandchildren to recount the moments that shaped my future.

I firmly believe education is 75 percent your responsibility. If you go through school and life with an open mind, you will learn. If you put in the time, people will teach you. If you're good to yourself, others will find you.

Now that I'm finished, it feels just like an old-fashioned summer vacation. It really hasn't set in that I won't be going back to school in the fall.People tell me it really will hit me in August.

Right now, I hope to just enjoy the summer and remember what it feels like to help out around the house, and catch up on the little things I've let fall to the wayside this past year.

I also plan to continue working part-time at WQAD as a video editor, with the goal of finding a full-time job. I feel as though Ambrose has prepared me for a number of avenues: I love writing, video and working with others.

Now I just have to decide what I want to do!
Sara Clifton, of Coal Valley, is a St. Ambrose University graduate.


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