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Graduation Day

Today was graduation day at the university where Nancy teaches.  Sounds like it was a nice ceremony.  As always, graduation here reminds me of my own college graduation many, many, many years ago.  

I went to Brown, where the procession leading from the University green to the chapel where the graduation service takes place, goes through a complicated and wonderful marching pattern.  Basically the current graduating class is followed in the procession by older classes back for reunions, as well as by the administration and faculty.  They walk through the university gates and then line the road so that they can cheer as the others walk by.  But as each group walks by the last of the spectators, they themselves move to the roadside and become spectators.  In effect, it's like continuously turning a sock inside out -- each end gets pulled through; each group gets to watch every other group walk by.  Hard to describe clearly.  Suffice it to say that I've experienced Brown's graduation as a graduating senior, as a five year alum, and as a twenty year alum, and eachtime it has been an incredibly moving experience that left me feeling that I was part of a much larger community.

So what about you?  What are graduations like at your colleges or high schools?  Any special experiences?

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
jamietr
May. 12th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
Ha! I lived not too far from Brown when I was a kid (in Warwick). That's an accredited school right? I hear it's pretty good... ;-)

I graduated from the University of California, Riverside back in June of 1994. Riverside, California is hot in June, and there we all were, dressed in black and standing under a hot desert sun for a few hours. It kind of soured me on graduations. (In fact, toward the beginning of my first pro s.f. story, "When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer", I describe a similar scene with a kind of cynical humor.) I worked hard for my degree and I kept wondering where was the distinction marching about with 1,000 other students? In fact, once I shook the Dean's hand and had my picture taken, I marched back toward my seat, and then just kept walking to my apartment, leaving my family and the rest of the graduating students behind. I turned up the A/C and got in an hour's nap before the graduation was over and then I dashed back over to meet my folks.
davidbcoe
May. 12th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
I do recall that the robes we wore that day in Providence were deathly hot. My friends and I decided they were better suited to being solar power cells than ceremonial garb. But we weren't clever enough to leave for a while.... Great story. Thanks for sharing. I'll have to look for "When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer."
jamietr
May. 12th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
You can find it in InterGalactic Medicine Show Issue #5 (July 2007).
davidbcoe
May. 12th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Cool! Thanks. I'm going to have a story in IGMS this July! It's almost like we're related....
jamietr
May. 12th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! Edmund mentioned it to me a little while ago. Can't wait to read it when the issue comes out. You might say "great months think alike". ;-)
elisel
May. 12th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
That does sound like a great experience.

I remember being tired and feeling generally cranky at my college graduation. By that time, I'd gotten my sleep schedule all turned around, and was in the habit of rising at 6 PM and staying up till dawn... ... wait. That might have been most of college.

My graduating class was small - I think around 350 students, or so. We had an outdoor ceremony in Fischer Gardens on campus, which is a glorious sort of flower fairieland in May... but also extremely hot. I believe a number of students elected to wear nothing at all under their robes.

I remember being vaguely annoyed that the college had chosen Priscilla Presley as our speaker (the price of going to college in Memphis, I suppose, along with the flood of interesting people who showed up for Dead Elvis Week), and being disappointed that I hadn't quite earned the gold cord that meant I was graduating Magna Cum Laude. In retrospect, I feel as though my mind was cluttered with a lot of useless concerns that should have played second fiddle to the fact of my graduation, and all that it represented.

But I also remember the smile the president of the college gave me when he shook my hand and handed me my papers. He said, "Congratulations, I'm so glad to have had you here," - took the time to say that, even though I was one of hundreds of students crossing the stage that day - and even though I was pretty sure he had no idea who I was, his manner was so personal that it felt as though he meant it sincerely: that he wasn't just glad to have had some random student there, but to have had me there at Rhodes. I left the stage feeling warmed as well as proud. It was worth sweating out the rest of the afternoon.

I didn't walk when I got my Master's, and regretted the decision. I've already decided that when I earn my PhD three fifty years from now, I am by God going to go through the ceremony. Even if I have to line up with a bajillion undergraduates and wait half the afternoon to get hooded. The experience is worth the associated hassles.
davidbcoe
May. 12th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
When my wife and I were leaving grad school, she had actually finished her degree -- I still had six months work left on my dissertation. But she'd gotten a job, so we were moving. We debated whether or not to get our hoods -- or rather, I debated whether or not to get mine, since I hadn't actually earned it yet. They allowed that at our school -- you could walk through, get your hood and the leather portfolio that should have held the diploma, but actually held a piece of paper that stated in no uncertain terms that it was NOT a diploma.... I wound up doing it, and I'm glad. Getting hooded was a great experience, even though I don't use the degree any more.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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