Tag Archives: Commencement

Captain America; Caps and Gowns; and a Night on the Town

10 May

Man, this has been an eventful weekend for our household. Instead of writing some long introductory paragraph, I will get right to the point.

On Friday, my stepdaughter learned that she made the volleyball team. She has worked hard on her skills, and everyone is proud of her effort. Then, it all paid off.

After she received a ton of congratulations, she and I ate went out on the town. We ate burritos and saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. Her mom wanted to go, but my stepdaughter was afraid that she would ask too many questions during the movie.

When the movie was over, she mentioned something that I did not catch. Black Widow has flirted with almost every member of the team, and she is now in love with Bruce Banner. Of course, this is not the “Bill Bixby hitchhiking to piano music” Bruce Banner. It is a Bruce Banner who is not as cool as that.

On Saturday morning, my university held its 173rd commencement on the lawn in front of our main building. It was a beautiful day, but it got a little hot under the caps and gowns. Commencement always brings mixed emotions for me. I am happy for the graduates, but I am also sad to see them go. To soften the blow, the History Department held a nice reception for our graduates and their families.

Last night, we went on a surprise birthday excursion for one of our friends. It started at Saint Anejo, one of the cool and trendy restaurants in Nashville. If you make it into the city, then you should try it out. It is full of locals, which means that you will not see any tourists wearing cowboy hats.

After dinner, we went to a concert at Marathon Music Works, which is located in the old Marathon automobile factory. The building houses all kinds of businesses, but this music venue is the best of the bunch. We did not know anything about the band, but it turned into a blast.

First, we were in the private balcony, which is the only way to watch a concert. We had stools, couches and our own server. The seating was especially great because the rest of the place is all about standing up.image-29

Second, the band was awesome. Matt and Kim are a duo, but that does not describe them. Matt plays keyboard and sings while Kim beats the crap out of the drums. She also stands on the drums and works the crowd into a frenzy. Heck, she even walked onto the hands of the crowd and danced. It is performance that has to be seen to be appreciated.

This morning, we began our Mother’s Day festivities and will continue with them throughout the afternoon. However, I had to take a few minutes to write about this eventful weekend. Now, I am going to take a nap.

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.


Let Commencement Commence

11 May

Tomorrow is Graduation Day at my university, and I have been thinking about how many of these I have attended. I have been a student in a few and a faculty member in a bunch. Through the years, I have noticed similarities in all of them.Commencement

Some students have their caps decorated while others are just trying to keep them on their heads.

A lot of pictures are taken.

Politicians show up because there is a crowd.

A graduate does something funny as they walk across the stage.

Dignitaries make speeches.

The list goes on and on. Everyone who has been to a commencement knows what I am talking about. In general, it is a time for celebration. Students have accomplished something that a too-small percentage of Americans have. They graduated from college. They may even be the first people in their families to do that.

However, there is more to celebrate than obtaining a degree. Families can celebrate the end of tuition payments. Students can celebrate the end of research papers, tests and all sorts of horrible things. They celebrate, and I find myself celebrating with them. but, I also find myself a little sad. Graduation is a milestone in life, and, like all milestones, it brings change. That change is a beginning, but it is also an end.

Graduation is the last time that the group will be together. Students who have spent four years with each other will drift apart, and many will never see each other again. They have been through a lot together. Good times. Bad times. Classes. Parties. They have been a community, and that community is coming to a close.

Every year, students who graduated the year before come back to visit. It’s good to see them, but I believe they sense what I did when I graduated. Once you are out, you are no longer a member of the community. It’s a weird feeling of being an outsider in a familiar setting. What’s the line? You can’t go home again.

The faculty feels it, too. Students that we have seen grow from kids to adults are going out into the world. We have seen them everyday for four, five, six years. After graduation, we will never see most of them again. We are glad that they have reached their goals, but we are also sad to see them go. New students will take their places, but, as I said earlier, this group will never be together again.

Tomorrow is Graduation Day at my university. The morning will be filled with anticipation and excitement. The ceremony will begin, and people will immediately start to wonder when it will be over. Don’t wish for it to be over. It will be over quicker than you realize. You will celebrate with your families. A few days later, you will realize that it’s over, and something new will begin.