Jenaya Lewis reading from A Type of Vertigo

Great work, kid

Thursday, December 8, 2022
Jenaya Lewis
About the Author

Jenaya Lewis

Jenaya Lewis is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) from Avondale University in 2022.

An ode to the graduating class

Well done. You’ve made it! Page to squire to knight. Apprentice to journeyman to master. Child to adolescent to adult. Student to student to teacher? These are all progressions in life and trade. 

Throughout history people have transitioned to the new adventures, joys, limits and responsibilities of new ranks, roles or positions. People have grown up in so many different ways.

As my Avondale experience is nearing its close, I feel as though I am breaking some mould. From the age of four, I have been a student. Preschool to primary school to secondary school and straight into university, what a bumpy ride the past 17 years have been. Now I am done—although I have gone to school to go to school to go and work in a school!—and I ask where to from here? 

The word “graduate“ comes from the medieval Latin “graduatus“ and has three elements to its meaning. First is graduari, or “to take a degree,“ a very literal way of describing for what the graduating class of 2022 has worked. I know there have been many days when there has been so much to do it takes your breath away. I know there have been some grades that have been disappointing and some utterly exhilarating. I know there have been doubts about our ability to do this, but as we approach that stage to “take our degree,“ we will know we have earned it. 

Second is gradus, or “a step climbed,“ a new mould to fit into, a stage of life surpassed. Just like the knighting of a squire, we are taking the step into the next chapter of our lives and, hopefully, blazing the trail of what we want to be. When I was a kid, Dad would wake us early to climb Mount Warning in Murwillumbah. Most of the trail was easy bushwalking and then right at the end there was a steep rock incline where we had to hold onto ropes and chains so we could climb to the top. I would hold onto Dad’s hand and slowly but surely make my way up. Once we reached the top, a beautiful sunrise would be waiting. A trail is not always easy but the struggle is part of the experience of the climb. 

Third is the Indo-European ghredh, which means “to walk, go.” We take our degree, acknowledging the steep climbing we did to get here, and walk into our (hopefully bright) futures. When someone asks me how I am going and I am not doing the best, I sometimes reply with “going.” “I’m going.” And that is all we need to do. There will be times when we walk just to go and other times when we go above and beyond. I hope you all know how far you have come and that you have people to hold your hand up to the top. 

Good job, graduate. We are proud.

This piece appears in A Type of Vertigo, an anthology produced by creative writing students at Avondale. A Type of Vertigo is available from Amazon.

Jenaya reads her poem

Creative writing student Jenaya Lewis reveals something of her inner self with “Halfway Gifted,” which is published in the anthology A Type of Vertigo. Here she is reading it for you.