Post date: May 22, 2011 4:53:01 AM
I didn't attend my graduation ceremony when I finished college in 1998. I don't necessarily regret not doing so. After all, graduations are pretty boring. That said, I decided I might as well experience what it's like to walk across stage and hear my name being called, so today I attended San Jose State University's School of Library and Information Science convocation (whew, what a mouthful!). I had actually finished the requirements for my Master's Degree last fall, but the ceremony happens only once a year, hence I didn't "graduate" until today (even if I've had my actual paper degree for a half-year now).
The graduation was interesting, if a little long. There were 719 graduates, with over 200 actually attending the ceremony today. Everyone's name was read aloud, whether they were in attendance or not, and the people who were actually there were called onto the stage and "hooded" to demonstrate they had completed their requirements for a Master's Degree.
Before the ceremony began, all the graduates were all milling about in a side room of the auditorium. About ten minutes before everything officially started, we were told to get into alphabetical order. It's not surprising that a group of librarians did it quickly and efficiently. I was pretty proud of us! Before long we were walking into the auditorium and taking our seats.
And we sat for quite some time.
Really, graduation ceremonies are not all that thrilling, and my wife was able to use the opportunity to catch up on writing in her journals and finishing thank-you notes from Mother's Day. I'm glad she was there to see me because she really helped me through the entire process, such as by revising papers or simply letting me sleep in later after a long night of schoolwork. A big part of my success is due to her.
She had a couple of people sitting behind her who were making rude comments to each other the whole time, such as "Dang, baby got back" at one of the larger graduates. But much of the time, you couldn't blame them because one of the two faculty members who read the names aloud had a lot of trouble and even mispronounced names like "Martinez." The worst offense was uttering the word "Pooper" when she messed up someone's last name, which my wife said was too much for the people behind her to maturely handle. Heck, I laughed pretty damn hard at that one. Poor Pooper!
During the graduation speaker's address to the group, he pointed out that most important of all is the ability for us to have interpersonal skills and be able to work with others. Looking around at my fellow group of librarians, I realized what a challenge this must be for so many of them. While there were definitely "normal" and even "outgoing" individuals, both my wife and I noticed that the vast majority of graduates all seemed to fit the stereotype of librarian. Sure, I like to read and all, but being a librarian in this day and age takes a lot more than reading a lot of books and being able to recite Dewey Decimal Numbers from memory.
Ultimately, taking part in the graduation ceremony was a good way to put a period at the end of the sentence, so to speak. Since I took all my courses online, I couldn't help but feel somewhat detached from the program. All these individuals only existed on my computer screen, and for all I knew they weren't "real" people. Seeing all the faculty and graduates in person solidified the accomplishment in my mind and helped me feel like I actually was a part of something bigger. Earning a Master's Degree is nothing to sneeze at, especially while working full time and having a family. I'm proud of all the hard work I did and today was a nice reminder of why I put in so much effort. And I'm so happy I'm done with having to worry about school assignments like term papers!