After working this past Saturday’s December commencement ceremony at JMU, it made me think about what stood out to me during my ceremony at Bridgewater. So, here’s a walk down memory lane if you care to join me.
I remember that everyone who got an announcement thought it was an invitation, and really, how can you tell them to not come? So, I was the person with 11 people in attendance. And yes, I still think having tickets at commencement is a good idea (I am a planner after all, and need to know how many to expect for seating!) My husband-then-boyfriend had to work but a friend let him borrow their car so he could make it in time to see me walk across the stage.
Before the big show we had to line up which happened to be near my major’s building, so I went in and got lots of hugs and a few pictures with professors. They changed my life on so many levels.
I don’t remember the processional at all. I don’t remember where I sat or who I was next to. The next thing I do remember is being next in line to go on stage. Apparently the guy who was supposed to be in front of me was not walking, Dr. Hessler, of Dean of the College, looked over and said “In absentia” then called my name.
I walked across the stage to Dr. Stone (our president at the time) and his gave me my diploma (yes, we actually got them). I remember looking to see if Sean had made it and he had! He was there with a bunch of my family getting the walking-off-the-stage photo and my stepmom saw me looking and pointed him out. I waved to everyone and then became a little confused as to which aisle I was to walk back down to get to my seat. That was embarrassing!
After it was all over we had our recessional after the faculty had theirs. They lined the sidewalk on the way out and there were hugs abound! I found Dr. Hessler and he gave me the biggest hug of the day. This was completely unexpected and was so special. It was so final. He was leaving, I was leaving, and this was his last commencement at BC. I so wish there was a picture of that! I have none of him during this day.
All of my family eventually found me and some wanted to meet Dr. Pierson since we had the same last name but spelled differently and his was my professor, supervisor, and mentor. We did all the meet and greets and I’m pretty sure Dr. Laliker got into that with my family too. As happy as I was that my family and Sean were all there, I was headed to a party with my friend’s family and our friends. I am forever grateful for my parents’ support while I was in college, but I was leaving the people that became my family for four years, and it was time to spend our last moments together. Obviously I couldn’t have known then that I would only see them again at two of their weddings. I am sorry we have lost touch but I know we all have our lives. One of those friends now have two children, and one of them is about to have her first! Regardless of our current distance and lifestyles, I am incredibly grateful to have had them in my life for those four years!
Commencement was one of the happiest and saddest days of my life. Bridgewater was so much more than a college for me. I lived there year-round, met the love of my life there, had a few mentors, worked various jobs, and was involved in many groups. It was home, and it still feels like home whenever I go back.
What do you remember about your graduation ceremony?