A Johns Hopkins "Graduation Adventure"

I've been looking forward to my brother David's graduation from college for a LONG time. We've been planning the trip for over a year. The trip definitely didn't go as planned. 

I've always said that David has everything going for him. He's brilliant, athletic, good looking, artistic and musical. He's even been known to assist me with floral arranging. When he graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and was heading off to Johns Hopkins, I knew the boy was destined for great things. I had no idea the great man he would turn in to. 

David played baseball from the time he was 7 and played in college. He started as a pitcher but later switched to catcher in high school and college. He told us at the beginning of 2016, if his baseball team went to regional playoffs, he wouldn't be at graduation. Their team motto was, "Appleton or bust!" for the college World Series. We all thought, "What are the odds of that?"

Over Spring Break, David hurt his neck and has been unable to play since. They had a great season and were in a tournament over Mother's Day Weekend to see who would be going to the regional tournament. Hopkins lost and we all assume we are going to graduation. David skyped with us and told us there was still a chance they would be going to regionals if they were picked up as an "at large" team. Again, "What are the odds of that?" Only 16 teams get picked up nationwide. So, I carry on my week excited to go to graduation. 

I went to my mom's house for dinner the day before we were scheduled to leave. I asked what time our flight was scheduled to leave. My mom tells me, "That depends on where we are going." Turns out, there was a 65% chance of going to regional playoffs. My step-dad was in the other room printing a ton of maps of different locations. "If playoffs are here, we drive this far. If playoffs are here, we won't go." At this point, I'm stressing. I don't know where I'm going on vacation or how to pack aside from "bring clothes for a baseball game." My mom promised me an adventure. And an adventure we sure had. 

I arrive at my parents' house early on Monday morning to drive to Chicago to fly out. This is the point where I learn we are going to baseball playoffs. In Pennsylvania. Which is not at all the same as Baltimore for graduation. 

Monday, we drive to Chicago and then fly to Baltimore. The baseball team was scheduled to depart for Pennsylvania at 7am on Tuesday. As David couldn't play and was going to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa honor society on Tuesday at 10am, the coach allowed him to attend the induction ceremony and ride to playoffs with our family. Phi Beta Kappa includes the top 5% of the graduating class and a few select juniors. Roughly 90 people were inducted on this day. Phi Beta Kappa will give David a lot of great connections in the intellectual community. 

 Phi Beta Kappa induction - From top left - David and I, David receiving his PBK certificate, David and his roommate Jack, David, mom and I 

Phi Beta Kappa induction - From top left - David and I, David receiving his PBK certificate, David and his roommate Jack, David, mom and I 

The journey from Baltimore to Washington, PA was about 4.5 hours. With me riding middle seat. My aunt sitting spread eagle on one side of me and my mom with her legs on top of me, using the center console as a footrest. This was not the vacation I had been planning on. 

The first game was on Wednesday. It was overcast, windy and about 50 degrees. None of us brought appropriate clothes for that, but luckily there was an outlet mall down the street from our hotel. Kevin spent the day working while us girls went shopping. The game was definitely a cold one. They played hard but unfortunately they lost. The only perk of them losing, was that now their game on Thursday was at a time we could attend instead of during a time we would have to be on a journey back home. 

Thursday's game was sunny and 70 degrees. Perfect baseball weather. The boys played well, but unfortunately lost again. Families of seniors stood around and said goodbyes to the friends they've made through watching Hopkins baseball for 4 years. We all applauded the team as they came out of the dugout. It wasn't the finish they were hoping for, but the team acted with dignity. They didn't scream and curse, they said goodbye to teammates and their families - lifelong friends they had made over the past 4 years. Various teammates invited each other and their families to visit over the summer. It was a true testament to the bond they had created and the character of each and every one of them. 

 David (in white shirt) saying goodbyes

David (in white shirt) saying goodbyes

Thursday evening, we made the drive back to Baltimore to be able to fly out on Friday afternoon. On Friday morning, we met up with David and took my aunt on a tour of the Hopkins campus. David dressed in his cap and gown as we took pictures in some of his favorite spots. He spent far too long scouting for "the perfect pole" to recreate one of his high school senior pictures. Not a cloud in the sky, the vacation gods were definitely on our side that day. 

 College on the left, high school on the right. 

College on the left, high school on the right. 

 "This is where I lean" - Chandler Bing or David Mampre

"This is where I lean" - Chandler Bing or David Mampre

 Bottom right corner is the top of his apartment building looking out over the baseball field

Bottom right corner is the top of his apartment building looking out over the baseball field

 Left - standing in the catcher spot, looking out towards his apartment, middle - dugout, right - sitting in the catcher spot

Left - standing in the catcher spot, looking out towards his apartment, middle - dugout, right - sitting in the catcher spot

Despite spending a LOT more time traveling than previously planned, it was a great trip and I loved seeing David. It turns out graduation was 4.5 hours long (from 4-8:30pm. HELLO DINNER?!?!) and the speaker was absolutely awful. I guess I prefer a bunch of travel over sitting still and being quiet at a graduation. 

From being in 7th grade, trying on my cap and gown before my graduation, to his high school graduation to college graduation, I am beyond proud to be this man's sister. He gives his all in everything he does and encourages others to do the same. 

After we came home, David and the other 9 baseball guys had a private graduation. You'll notice the amount of "swag" David has compared to the rest of the team. You can definitely tell how proud their coach is to have that group of guys standing around him. Thankfully, Hopkins is very tech savvy and produced a video of the private baseball graduation so families like ours could stream it. 

 Images of actual graduation

Images of actual graduation

David graduated from Johns Hopkins with a 4.0 GPA with a degree in Neuroscience. He will spend the next year doing research and applying for med school. With a near perfect MCAT score, he should have his pick of schools. I've spent the past few days proofing his med school essays and I have to say, I teared up a bit with pride. It's been quite some time since I have read something that he has written and to say he has a way with words is an understatement. It also turns out, he was involved in a lot more activities in college than I was aware of. I'm not sure how he managed it all, he says he hasn't slept in 4 years and I completely believe it. 

Mostly, I can't wait for him to become a doctor so he can fix my migraines but I'll pretend it is all sisterly pride. The day he graduated high school, I posted a FB status talking about his accomplishments so obviously for college, I had to outdo that and make a blog post. I ended my status with "I'm proud to call you my brother! Do big things!" and I can't think of any better way to end this blog post. His last 4 years of college has lived up to that and I know when he starts med school, he will definitely be doing some big things! He's going to make a difference in this world. Do big things, David! We are all so proud of you!