Commencement Shall Commence – Rain or Shine

10 May

The 142nd commencement of Cumberland University is upon us, and there is a question of where it will be held. If the weather is nice, then the ceremony will be held on the lawn in front of Memorial Hall.Memorial Hall

However, it may rain. If that happens, then the ceremony will be held in the gym. It will be a lot less complicated if the sun is shining.

I have been involved with 15 of those 142 commencements. The first was in 1989 when I graduated with an Associate degree. The university stopped offering those degrees several years ago. I guess that means I am a dying breed. That graduation was held in the cafeteria. The university was small enough that everyone could fit into that room. Through the hard work of a lot of people, the university has grown through the years.

It was almost ten years later that Cumberland University had gotten to the point where it was offering Masters degrees. I got one of those, too. That commencement was held in the gymnasium. I do not remember much about it, but I know it was not a disaster.

That is one of the things that I would like to pass on to this year’s graduates. Having a ceremony in the gymnasium is not the worst thing that ever happened. I understand that everyone wants the beautiful outdoors where an unlimited number of people can attend. I know that it sucks to be told that only six people can get into the gym when a truck load of family members have shown up. However, I have graduated from Cumberland University twice, and neither time was outside. I promise that it ended up fine. I still got a couple of diplomas.

Tonight, there are a lot of people sitting around wondering if it is going to rain. I am wondering what I will be thinking about as the commencement takes place before my eyes. Actually, I am not wondering. I know exactly what I will be thinking about.

Sitting on the front row means that the faculty get a great view of graduates going across the stage. Wait, we get a great view of their shoes going across the stage. Every year, I think about the variety of shoes. Tennis shoes. Flip flops. High heels. Higher heels. Even higher heels. And, they all reach the bounds of the color spectrum. Yep, watching shoes is one of the more entertaining parts of the program.

I also think about what people are wearing. Graduates dress up to the max, then they cover all of that up with a gown. I have often wondered why people dress up to cover up. I guess they want to look nice for the post-graduation gathering of family.

Last year, there was a girl who dressed as a half-human, half-goat forest creature. She had the ears and everything. After she crossed the stage, she skipped off into the distance. It was a tremendous exit. I wonder if we will be getting any alumni donations from her.

Truthfully, I am also sitting around wondering if it is going to rain. I hope it does not because everyone should be able to watch their loved ones walk across the stage. Graduating from college is a great accomplishment. It involves hard work of sacrifice by the graduate and everyone else in their lives. It takes drive and commitment. Sometimes, it takes a little imagination. Just ask the half-human, half-goat forest creature.


2 Responses to “Commencement Shall Commence – Rain or Shine”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong May 10, 2014 at 02:53 #

    Half the graduates at my ceremony wore shorts and tees under their gowns. Maybe it was because it was 1968. But me? I got dressed because I was graduating and you’re right. It WAS a big deal.

    • Rick May 10, 2014 at 02:56 #

      It is a time for decorum. I hate when people decorate their caps and when people in the crowd blow horns.

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