Emily Rice

Emily Rice is the Features Editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and the Associate Editor of Prerogative Magazine.

Graduation season is upon us, folks. Proms, caps and gowns, the ceremonies, it is all coming for us.

I am kidding, of course. This is a wonderful season of celebrations and rewards for hard work. Though it is a stressful time for those involved, for the rest of us, we can just celebrate those we love.

I graduated from college three years ago. Most of my friends were a few semesters behind me so for a couple of years I attended a lot of college graduations. Then, as a reporter, I have attended many to photograph and cover these milestone moments in young people’s lives.

It has been a little while since I went to graduation just to be supportive. This year, I get that opportunity again. One of my best friends and coworker, Emily Coppola will graduate from Bluefield State College soon. While she received her diploma and joined our staff in 2018, the college only holds one ceremony per year. I am so excited to be there to support her. While I did not even meet her until she was done with school, I am so proud of her accomplishments.

A recent trend for graduates has been to decorate their caps. I believe it began as a way to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of graduates, all wearing the traditional robes of a graduation ceremony. When I graduated college in May 2016, I decorated my cap with a Harry Potter theme. Only Harry Potter fans will understand, but I worked hard to craft my cap to read “Master has given Dobby a diploma, Dobby is FREE!”

Three years later I have all but forgotten about the pressure of graduation cap decoration, that is, until Emily texted me that she had no idea what to do with her’s. I immediately recalled the panic of decorating that cap in the living room of my studio apartment, after my last day of finals, the day before the ceremony. None of the glue would stick, the letters were the wrong size and I am pretty sure I had a bit of a meltdown over it all. I was frustrated but determined to have my Harry Potter cap I’d been decided on for years. I ended up carrying an emergency glue stick in my pocket just in case any of it fell apart. My cap also reflected how I felt about graduating college: Freedom! Now, I sometimes wish I could go back, but that is a column for another time.

Emily and I are similar in the fact that we don’t enjoy a lot of “girly” things. Many of my friends decorated their caps with flowers, frills and glitter. They were cute, but nothing like mine or Emily’s style. We started scouring Pinterest to not much avail.

Crafts are one of our favorite things so we are confident in our ability to create whatever she decides on for her cap. I am not joking when I tell you that I am a master crafter. I have three drawers full of supplies and we are ready to make her graduation cap dreams a reality. As I write this, I am looking forward to a girl’s Friday night with Emily and our other best friend and coworker, Jessica Nuzzo to decorate Emily’s cap and unwind after a long week at the office.

I am excited for girl’s night, I am excited for Emily’s graduation but more than anything I am excited to have these two as friends. Our little trio has, without a doubt, changed my life. I have not had a group of friends since high school and for a long time, I thought that era of my life was over. Now, thanks to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph’s hiring of the three of us, I have two women that I can depend on no matter what. In the few months of our friendship, I can already say that with confidence.

We each bring our own strengths to our friendship. We are goofy and weird and I remember the first time Jess and I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt being so happy. I had not laughed that hard in a long time and of course, I do not even remember what it was about. They keep me laughing, they hold me up in harder times and are there to keep me company in the in-between times.

Today, I am grateful. I am grateful for friends, for the opportunities I have had to have earned three diplomas of my own, for a job I look forward to coming to and for my life as I approach my quarter century birthday. Thank you for reading and allowing me to have a job where I get to work with my best friends. And hey, send Emily Coppola some congratulations when you get the chance.