Tag Archives: Graduation

The Story of Graduation

6 May

Another academic year has come to an end. Some students have packed up to go home for the summer. Other students have packed up to go on with their lives. They will take their degrees into the world and use the information that they have learned.

Graduation is always a day of excitement and pride. However, it is also a day of sadness because people who have been together for a couple of years leave campus and walk with their families in different directions.

Their lives will also take them in different directions. Some will follow the path of which they planned. Others will take detours along the way. Some of them will stay in contact with their former classmates. Others will disappear from view.

In high school, I had a good friend with whom I used to hang out. Heck, we knew each other before high school. After the high school graduation ceremony, we stood around in our regalia and talked. My mom took a picture of us. That was the last time I ever talked to him or saw him.

That is the story of graduation. It is a time to look to the future. Graduates tell each other that they will stay in contact and talk. Then, they leave campus to go to their family celebration. They busy themselves with getting jobs. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. With all of that going on, it is difficult to stay in contact and talk.

Many of them will stay friends forever. Many of them will move on down the road and never look back.

Yes, that is what graduation is all about.

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.

Graduation Celebration

1 Jun

Last night, my nephew graduated from high school. Other than the fact that I felt old, it was a time for celebration for a great achievement. I won’t go on and on about his honors and accolades, but I felt the need to celebrate this in the blog world. With that in mind, I decided to find out what was happening in the world during the year he was born – 1994.

In the world of sports:

– the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII.

– no one won the World Series because a strike cancelled the season.

– George Foreman became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion.

– Miguel Indurain won one of my favorite events, the Tour de France.

– Dale Earnhardt won the Winston Cup Championship.

On television:

– NBC debuted a couple of new shows called ER and Friends.

– The Game Show Network made its debut.

– O.J. Simpson got in a white Bronco and led police on a slow-speed chase.

Star Trek: The Next Generation ended its successful run.

At the movies:

The Lion King defeated Forrest Gump as the highest grossing film.

Forrest Gump got revenge by running away with the Academy Award for Best Film.

– Telly “Who loves ya, baby?”┬áSavalas passed away.

– Cameron Diaz made her first film appearance in The Mask.

The literary world saw:

– Stephen King publish Insomnia.

– Kenzaburo Oe won the Nobel Prize for Literature.


– Bruce Springsteen had a hit with Streets of Philadelphia.

– Justin Bieber was born.

– Kurt Cobain died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

– Cream, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Etta James, the Doors and others were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On a more serious note:

– Hurricane Gordon killed over 1,000 people.

– USAir Flight 427 crashed into a hillside in Pennsylvania, leading to the longest accident investigation in aviation history.

– Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.

– Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq.

– Yasser Arafat became president of the Palestinian Authority.

And, that’s the way it was. Congratulations to Weston on his graduation!