I love this time of year. Yes, it’s true that springtime is beautiful, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and the grass is green once more. But, it’s much more than the splendor of spring. It’s graduation time throughout the nation. Kindergarteners are graduating, eighth graders are graduating, and high school seniors are on their way to a brave new world. Some continue on and attend college, and there too comes the day of graduation. As a professor, I enjoy watching the hectic machinations of our soon to be graduates as they anticipate their final days as students. Yet, their smiles are at the ready when they discuss final exams, end of the semester papers, and the up and coming graduation. This is the time of year when students, faculty, and staff realize the tangible proof of the demanding work they embraced.
Commencement means beginning. The term implies a new beginning, a time when we let go of the past and commence a journey on a different road, one less traveled. Commencement day begins, I’m sure for all of us, with a flutter of activities. Students might be purchasing their regalia, attending to last minute details for the after graduation party, and checking their directions, times, and tickets. They may have last minute calls to family and friends before they leave their “old” world behind. Faculty also deals with challenging demands. Though all paperwork for seniors is complete, there remain final exams and research papers to grade for those not graduating. They too check their clock and directions. And staff, well they’re always involved in commencement, if not to set up, then to assure a successful evening.
When graduates leave the podium with degree in hand, and the cap is energetically thrown toward the heavens of their future, faculty walk away with heaviness, for another group of students will commence their lives. Another generation will carry on the torch with the skills and knowledge they have earned and learned. As Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” for as we watch them leave, we know how wonderful life will be for them, and how sad it is for us to watch them go.© Natala Orobello