SYED MOHAMMAH MAHMOOD | So Long & Thanks For All the Fish

My graduation day started out as one of the best moments and highlight of my summer. My brother and his wife drove me up from Michigan the night before. We arrived home just after midnight. I should have slept immediately but My roommates and friends stayed up till late in the night. The ceremony was set for nine in the morning, and I had to be up by seven to get ready and go pick up my gown. Surprisingly there is no Graduation cap for undergraduate students. It would have been a nice accessory. Walking around in the Regalia is so epic. While wearing the gown there is this feeling of honour, pride, and happiness; especially while being surrounded by my classmates. We walked in to the theatre to the sound of bagpipes. That bagpiper dude had some set of lungs on him!

We were told to hold our applause as people walk across the stage when their name is called out. The only ones cheering and clapping were those in the audience who knew the person on stage. When any one of our classmates walked the stage the entire class would shout, clap and whistle. It was loud, louder than most people. As I walked the stage I heard the distinct voice of my sister-in-law shouting from the balcony. I shook hands with the chancellor, hugged president levy, and hugged Sanjid (my good friend and old boss at International Student Services) who was ushering students at the end of the stage.

After the ceremony everyone gathered in the quad. I got a nice class photo with most of my graduating industrial engineering class of 2015. No cap tosses but still a gem of a photo. 2 Industrial Engineering Class of 2015 We took pictures with friends, and family. Met the parents of some of my friends, and said bye. My brother treated me to lunch at Lahore Tikka house. There I ran into a classmate who was also with his family celebrating his graduation. It’s a small world after all. My family left shortly after to return to my parents in Michigan. My Parents who had been watching the live broadcast and receiving pictures throughout the ceremony. My mom was so proud and was recalling my grade three graduation ceremony which was similar. 3 My brother, Bhabi, and me

Once home, exhausted and happy I decided to take a nap. This peaceful sleep was disrupted by a call from Canadian Tire. From this conversation I understood that they might not be able to hire me unless I show them a work permit. My work permit processing time would be around the end of July. My start date was June 22nd. That meant I wouldn’t be able to work there. This shocking news took my amazing day on a whirlwind ride to one of the most anxious periods ever. Circumstances had no changed on my visa but I had this crushing sense of panic, like a claw gripping my heart and restricting my breathing. I found counsel in my friends. International students who knew my plight admitted to their own fears of not getting a work visa. One of my friends said she would figuratively die if she didn’t get one, since she too had no back up plan. My Canadian friends were a mix of sorry and angry. They pointed out how unfair it was that international students have to face such stress over something like a visa while they don’t. One friend mentioned that if roles were reversed and he had done the things I did throughout university, internships and student leadership, as a Canadian he would be set for his future. A friend even gave me his Zoroastrian Faravhar necklace saying that this guardian angel might help even if I don’t believe in it.

I spoke to International Student Services at Ryerson and got all the relevant links and laws to working in Canada. I passed this information on to CanTire. Then I waited. I did not hear back from them till four days later since a weekend fell in between. This seemingly never ending period was scary. Eventually I heard great news and was told that I am to start working as planned on June 22nd. My visa circumstances have not changed but having a job makes things a life more comfortable.

Although I was one of the first Road from Ryerson Bloggers to graduate, I am amongst the last to submit my final blog. I did not want to write this in that dark period since I wanted to share the ending of that story. I am now doing much better. The past week has been filled with meetups amongst old friends. And today as I write this I heard from the dean’s office that I made the Dean’s list this year. I had my doubts since one semester’s GPA was only 3.45 and I didn’t know if I qualified for the requirement of 3.5. Now I have work to look forward to! Thank you for following me on this journey I hope the best for everyone’s future.4 I graduated!