I recall writing this post about the Graduate College ceremonies two years ago. This Friday, I’ll get to walk through the same ceremony as a doctoral candidate…to celebrate completing the last of my educational requirements. I’m still working on my dissertation, but am preparing to defend and complete that process no later than mid-July of this summer.
I was thinking about this post because it’s interesting to change perspectives – being a graduate, being faculty, then being a graduate again. I’m looking forward to Friday…to sitting with my doctoral advisor, to smiling as I get hooded, and to being with my family. I’m a sucker for academic regalia, so am exited to have three velvet stripes on the sleeves of my robe this time, and a velvet tam on my head. But mostly, I’m looking forward to being finished: with enrolling, with paying tuition (about 35K and counting…), and with having more hoops through which to jump. I’ll be glad the hoop jumping is complete.
I know there will always be hoops in life – job hoops, tax hoops, qualifying hoops of one sort or another. But, to know the educational hoops are about the end is, to me, one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve ever experienced. To me, that’s what Friday will mean. ~ Peace, RDK
Last night I reported to Gallagher Iba Arena just before 6:00 p.m. My assignment? To assist master’s candidates with their academic regalia. I had my instructions: Medallions first, cords second, hoods, then caps. Also, tassels on the LEFT.
In December of 2001 I was being assisted with this process, rather than being the one who assists. My perspective was so different this time. As I jockeyed with those guarding the door who wanted to see my credentials, asked where I was to report and then finally seemed to be convinced I had a reason to be there I began wondering if I would be of any use to the students. After all, they were getting their Master’s Degrees, right?
That question was put quickly to bed once I had walked down the hallway and into one of the practice gyms. All around the room students were jostling with their regalia. “What do I do with this little loopy-thingy?” “Is this on right?” “Can you help me with the zipper on my gown? It’s stuck.” “Do you have any bobby pins?” “Hey, someone brought safety pins, cool!” The comments circled around the room and repeated themselves over and over as the room filled almost to capacity. Where were all these Master’s candidates coming from? Did we have three, four or even six times this many on our campus? I was genuinely surprised at the numbers. I would guess there were at least 400 or more milling around in their friendship groups. I noticed between eight and ten older, “returning” students (read: those my age or older…some with a full head of gray hair) standing alone. The eight or ten appeared, by and large, peaceful and happy. I think they were just standing in the midst of the hubbub taking in all they could.
The “traditional” students (read: those between 24 and 28 years old) were standing around in groups of two, three, eight or even more. They were rapidly speaking to each other and helping one another with their hair, regalia, holding phones, taking photos, etc. One group of tall young men in the corner broke out in the “Oh-lay-oh-lay-oh-lay-oh-LAAAYYY (Ole, Ole…)” song. They were jumping up and down to the beat of the song, and sang it three or four times through. Continue reading Here’s What Touched My Heart