This is part II of my posts of mourning following graduation. Part I can be found here if you want to get caught up.
Sunday morning at the crack of dawn (which was 8:15 for me; I was up till 3, cut me some slack), the senior class gathered up behind the admissions building on the hill decked out in our caps and gowns. We had a flawless day, albeit a little warm under all that black fabric.
The lining up of 561 graduates went surprisingly smoothly. I introduced myself to the kid who would be sitting next to me whom I had seen around campus but didn’t really know. “If we’re going to be sitting together for the next two hours, we might as well be friends!” he said. On my other side was someone from my writing class.
Before I knew it, we were taking the traditional walk down the hill. It was a parade of caps and tassels. Parents lined up along the ropes to take pictures and I quickly spotted my dad. As we wound our way onto the quad where the ceremony would take place, I spotted my dad again, who had joined my mom. I gleefully waved then spun around to show them the top of my cap:
As I could have predicted, my mom immediately burst into tears.
We got to our seats but had to remain standing until everyone arrived. This was the worst part of the ceremony. When all of us were arranged we still had to sweat out the national anthem before we could sit. My new friend next to me suggested I use the program as a fan. Good call, friend.
The ceremony was perfect. Our commencement speaker was great, but a little long-winded. His message was threefold: treasure your friendships formed in college (I cried when he talked about this), be grateful to your family (he asked us to clap for our parents and I pointed at my cap), and don’t be afraid to seize opportunities that may not necessarily fit into the “plan.” Overall, he did a good job.
Our class speaker was excellent as well. Her speech was about remembering the “who” of our college career. Whether it be your friends, a professor, your team, or a staff member, that’s what is important and what makes our college experience special (I cried during hers too).
All of a sudden it was time to get our diplomas…or should I say our diploma cases since we had to go later to the registrar to get the actual thing. I had to ask my family after if they said my name right because I swear I blacked out. I remember the president shaking my hand, and I must have not tripped because I was still standing when I stepped off the stage. One of my friends stuck his hand out for a high-five on my way back to my seat.
After a group count-down led by our class president, we moved our tassels and officially became alumni. We paraded back out, across the quad and through a tunnel of professors all congratulating us. I made a bee-line back to my house where I met my family, and slowly the rest of my housemates gathered there as well. Then it was picture time!
After festivities, it was time to pack…