You made it! And yes, it is a big deal
Well, that time of year has finally arrived. Graduations are here and the faces look so brilliant. The eyes sparkle and the step has a pronounced bounce. These women and men have graduated! Graduating is definitely a big deal. “Look at me, world! I graduated; I can do this!”
Watching the faces
This past week I sat through another graduation: the Alliant International University Class of 2015 at San Diego Civic Theatre. Picture it: The parents, siblings, friends and relatives near and distant have taken their seats. There is a soft murmur as people talk while getting ready for “that moment” to arrive. And then it does. The graduates march in to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” with gowns waving, caps on, and all eyes on them, many tearing up.
Soon after come the faculty and administrators. Everyone is still standing as we head to the stage – many parents with a slight “whew” in their eyes with those tears.
We take our seats on the dais and the speeches start. I gave the welcome; the Master of Ceremonies, Russ Newman, and University President Geoffrey Cox offered remarks and the Commencement Address was by Maria de los Remedios Gomez Arnau, the Consul General of Mexico, San Diego.
Voices of Diversity and the Student Commencement Address followed. And then came the Presentation of the Class of 2015 and the conferring of degrees. The graduates are restless, nervous, and excited. Who wouldn’t be?
Who are these individuals who make up the Class of 2015? They are graduates from Alliant’s California School of Forensic Studies (CSFS), Hufstedler School of Education (HSOE), Alliant School of Management (ASM), and California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP). I look out into the audience of former students and recognize so many. Some shoot me covert peace signs or smile and nod. I’m going to miss you.
Here’s a secret about the faculty sitting up there looking so dignified: many of us have been through these graduations ten, twenty, thirty times. And we still like going. We still get misty-eyed during those special moments when a student gives us a slight wave.
I like to look at the faces in the audience. Those of the students and their guests. I watch the faces because there on those faces are etched pride, hope, belief in the future and dreams come true. Awards, the diplomas, the handshakes, the photos, the tears. There isn’t anything else quite like those ceremonies because it’s the culmination of years of dedicated hard work and sacrifice.
Graduating from a college or university is not an easy thing. According to Huffpost, quoting “a new study from Harvard and the Asian Development Bank, 6.7 percent of the world’s population are college degree-holders.” Did you get that? Only 6.7%. A bachelor’s degree is hard to get. A master’s degree is much harder and a doctorate is unbelievably difficult. And it is always worth it. Always.
I like graduations, they are wonderful success stories. There are, after all, many things that can hinder an education. Just a few of the obstacles that can get in the way of a complete education include poverty, health problems, lack of motivation, peer pressure, drugs, violence, unplanned pregnancy, and lack of a role model. Yet millions of people around the world are graduating this year. Millions more who raised or supported these individuals are seeing their own hard work pay off.
Graduations are never taken lightly. The world of the graduate will never again be the same. Some of the people with whom great and wonderful friendships were forged will never be seen again. Many people will change careers while others will start new ones. Some are continuing with education while others are finally (finally!) finishing.
We all made a difference
Sometimes we hear about the impact a teacher had on a student. Well you know what? I have never met a teacher whose life was not changed by their students.
Here is something you might think about. At some point in the distant future you will think wistfully about a teacher. Perhaps that instructor smiled at you during a depressing morning; maybe she truly made algebra not just understandable, but so much fun that you made computer science your career. Might be that he taught you what good writing actually looked like; or she helped you further your own understanding of the cosmos. Maybe he just took the time to hear you.
This is the interesting part: that teacher you may think about years from now will have also thought about you. You have had an impact on your school and on your instructors. And for myself, I thank you. I am a better person for knowing you, for teaching you, for learning from you. To the graduating class at Alliant International University, and indeed every graduate around the world, you have my congratulations, respect, and my gratitude. Now the world is yours, treat it well.
For information about Alliant International University or of any of its schools: California School of Forensic Studies (CSFS), Hufstedler School of Education (HSOE), Alliant School of Management (ASM), California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) or San Francisco Law School: http://www.alliant.edu