Graduation. That time of year when jubilant celebrations are in the air, cheering with great pride the achievements of the accomplishments of our students who reach a goal, a degree, a diploma! It is assuredly an event to celebrate. I have the laudable and enviable task of conferring the diplomas on all of our graduates. It is a humbling and honorable duty.
I face an audience filled with expectations…not just the graduates but their families, beaming with pride at their child, spouse, sibling, neighbor who each has accomplished so much. The fact that these expectant faces are waiting to walk across the stage and receive the symbol of an educated mind gives me pause…many have struggled to get to this hallmark. My focus on these commencements is the student…this is really about them! Who remembers long graduation speeches? Filled with tasks, challenges, and of course accolades. I suspect, no one. The time is for the graduate, not pompous orators who fill the time no matter how long. So, my eyes are on each and every graduate.
My very favorite part of the ceremony is when the student’s name is read and they walk across the stage. After 40+ ceremonies, I have seen it all. Cartwheels, dancing, singing, nervous students, tears and of course the proverbial high fives – all in the spirit of what the accomplishment means to them. And while I see the ceremony as academically important, I do not judge the individual or familial reaction because I know just how important it is to each and every audience member.
As I look into the expectant and jubilant eyes of the graduates, my hope is but one: a hunger for continued and never ending thirst of learning. The commencement is not an end but a beginning! If an associate degree is awarded, then the bachelor’s degree awaits. If the baccalaureate is the current parchment, then next a master’s degree and so on. And even as it may be “life’s experience” on a transcript, there is one thing that higher education can and must instill: the continued search for the truth.
This will be Glendale’s 49th graduation ceremony. May each graduate live to the expectation that the degree intends. May it also be the beginning of a new and exciting journey.