Thursday, December 22, 2005

Graduation notes from Saturday

As I mentioned before, Saturday was our winter graduation, and I went to see off three of my favorite advisees.

It was, all in all, great.

My office building is right across the street from the building where we hold graduations and such, so I got to campus early so I'd get easy parking. (Heaven forefend I should walk an extra step! If I thought about it, I'd be really irritated at how often thoughts of parking dictate my behavior. I'd better not think about it.) By the time I got there, though, the lot was half full, and people were getting out of cars, dressed in that Northwoods' winter dress up with extra layers way, graduates gathering their black robes and trying to get their mortarboards to more or less stay on.

I barely got a glance getting out of my car and heading to the office building. I had on my usual several layers, and could have been just about anyone but a student or parent, too much grey to be a student, and not dressed well enough to be a parent. Just a nobody in layers.

I stripped off the layers in my office, put on some music, and did a little necessary, short time work until it was time to dress up. At graduation, we faculty folk are asked to meet about a half an hour ahead in a room in the big building across the street, separate from the official folks, who meet in another room. We adjust each others hoods, admire finery, and contemplate the idea of teaching in robes. (Imagine, you'd NEVER have to worry about your stupid wardrobe again!

So I tucked on my hat (which may look better than my usual winter hat, but really doesn't do the trick for Northwoods' weather) on my head at what I hoped was a rakish angle, and headed out to brave the cold of crossing the street.

When you wear finery, people stop and look. It's weird. A half an hour earlier, I was nobody. Now, they look at me as if I'm somebody, somebody very important. A path opens up for me. There's magic in them thar robes, I tell you.

Somehow, at the ceremony, I ended up in the first row of faculty, centered where students come off the stage as they cross, which was great for greeting my advisees. I reached out to shake their hands as they passed, and I even got a hug from one of them.

(She apologized when she saw me later in the week. I think she was a little embarrassed that she'd hugged me in front of a large room full of people. I, on the other hand, was honored. Sometimes I worry that my work in teaching has no meaning, but when I get a hug at graduation, or a genuine thank you, then I have hope again.)

The speaker was dreadful. But then, I think graduation speeches must be about as difficult as any. What can you say? Go forth, don't screw up as badly as my generation did. Take time to smell the roses. Work hard. Play hard. Don't drink and drive. Rotate your tires.

Afterwards, I went to the reception and spent some time talking with one of my advisees and her family. What great fun.

She sent me a copy of a picture her family took of she, another faculty member, and I, standing posed together. I look like a total idiot, but a happy idiot.

My magnificent regalia is really wasted on me.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story because it sounds so much like me. Of course, I only have the lowly Master's robes, and those necessarily look ridiculous. Still, great story!!! Love it!!!!