Commencement season has commenced. My post-missionary career has evolved into one of doing graduations, first at a seminary near San Francisco and now at a university in North Carolina.
None of my 12 years of helping to put on commencement ceremonies has come close to the amount of work (and stress) involved in this year’s. We added a new ceremony in a new city (Asheville); increased our largest ceremony by 100 graduates; changed the Baccalaureate service to a new venue; and had Secret Service on hand to protect the father of one of our graduates, who happens to be the President of a country. Needless to say, our vacation starting as soon as the last diploma was handed out couldn’t possibly have come at a better time.
Graduations are bitter-sweet for me. Even though there are always certain graduates who I know I’ll miss each year, I do get caught up in the excitement. The satisfaction of accomplishment. Hopes for a limitless future mixed with apprehension of the unknown. It’s funny that commencement means beginning and yet it comes at the end. A chapter closes as a fresh page opens, waiting to be written. The next phase of life launches with its chance for reinvention. And, for me, a new crop of students I’m certain to grow to love will take their places in August.
We usually think of the next chapter for graduates being adulthood, but the trend is to have commencement ceremonies peppered throughout life. Tomorrow we get to go to our granddaughter’s pre-school ceremony. We can’t wait to experience the pomp and circumstance for five-year-olds!
And one of these years, even at my snail’s pace, I hope to type my own name in the program for a Master’s degree.
When I look at the sea of proud faces under their mortarboard caps, I think if they can do it … Well, anything’s possible.