The picture above shows us celebrating Janka's graduation. Left to right is me, Petra, Janka and Ken. It was a glorious day for the 750 advanced degree graduates and their friends and families who witnessed the ceremony.
It began with a lone bagpiper, in a kilt of course, walking the perimeter of the floor area of the arena. I love bagpipe music but not all people do. To see him walk slowly as he played was hauntingly beauitful. Next the graduates filed in, each wearing the colors of their field around the robe collar and the tassel on the mortarboard. I got a bit teary when I saw Janka in the long line for I knew how hard she'd worked to get there and how disappointed she was that her family could not attend.
We heard Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense for both Presidents Bush and Obama, address the graduates with a brief, but meaningful, speech. We watched with pride as Janka received her degree. We knew the hours and hours of time she spends practicing the classical piano pieces, the load of classwork and teaching private piano students as well as playing the organ at a church every Sunday. She survives on little sleep and too many skipped meals, but her passion for what she is doing drives her on. She is a very talented young woman, plays like a professional.
Pictures and a reception came next, and later in the evening, we went to dinner to celebrate. Janka's parents in Slovakia were able to watch the graduation as it was livestreamed over the internet. Isn't this a wonderful world we live in?
Janka is flying home next week for a two month visit. She hasn't seen her family since last summer and is so eager to spend quality time with them. Her mother scolds her when they skype. "Are you eating, Janka? You are too thin!" Mothers are like that, and this proxy mother here in Kansas has scolded her about the same thing.
In August, Janka will move to Lincoln, NE where she will work toward a doctorate in Music, a program which will take her around four years. She has an Assistantship that will help her with expenses while there. I have no doubt that she will one day wear the hood of those who are conferred the Doctor of Music degree.
Janka's good friend,, Petra, has become our friend, too. Petra is from the Czech Republic. She plays on the K-State tennis team. This is her second year and she will be here another two years. She is an excellent player, has won awards and is ranked #27 in USA college players. She will be playing in the NCAA tournament the week after next, then home to see her family for 2 1/2 months before she starts her junior year at K-State.
Ken and I are all the richer for knowing both these young women.