It's still graduation time! Last week, we wrote about three graduation ceremonies that turned sour, due to the choice of commencement speaker. So, how about we balance that out by talking about three graduation ceremonies that were more uplifting?
First up is an account from reader K.C. in St. Augustine, DeSantisWorld*
[* - Protecting residents from the deceptive charm of malevolent mice.]
My family and I had the pleasure of attending the commencement ceremony at American University's George Washington School of Law in D.C. this past Saturday. My son was one of the J.D. graduates. WOO-HOO! We remain grateful that, during my wife's pregnancy, her superior-in-every-way DNA devoured most of mine before too much damage was done.
The Dean of the law school is a decades-long friend of the newest Supreme Court Associate Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and she delivered the commencement address—her first as a Supreme Court Justice. Many articles have been written about the speech, including this one. I'm showing CNN love because I've heard they've had a rough go of it lately. This picture of the Associate Justice is mine:
- It was a boisterous and supportive crowd which was appropriate for the celebratory occasion.
- There was no shunning, shaming, spooning, mooning, or any behavior that model citizens wouldn't endorse.
- The Associate Justice received a standing ovation when she walked to the stage, loud applause when she received her honorary doctorate, and another standing ovation at the end of her speech.
- Her speech, thankfully, didn't include politics, but instead instructions on how to succeed at being an attorney with lessons she learned as a "superfan" of Survivor. Please see the article.
- A posthumous degree was given to the family of a young woman who would've graduated with this class but she got sick and died within weeks. My son didn't know her but had a couple of classes with her and said she was "really smart." The Dean was emotional and had to stop a couple of times when talking about the student. I won't share more details out of respect for the family, who chose not to walk on stage to accept her degree. As cliché as it sounds, we've thought about them frequently this week.
- There was a brief interruption in the presentation of degrees. Graduates walked from the audience up to the stage and it was progressing efficiently. Then, there was a noticeable gap due to an elderly man with a cane who walked with great effort. From the time when he approached the stage to after shaking the President of the university's hand, the crowd cheered and applauded.
- I didn't know until her speech that Ms. Brown Jackson was the first defense attorney to serve on the Supreme Court. Her points on not giving up despite lacking resources and playing the long game seemed to resonate as I overheard snippets of conversations after the ceremony. No charges were filed or authorities notified regarding my eavesdropping. Let's keep it that way.
- My son's fiancee also received her J.D.—from 0 to 2 lawyers in the family in 1 afternoon; DOUBLE WOO-HOO!—and we met her family. My relieved son says I haven't done anything that causes them concern. Yet.
- It was nice to experience such overwhelming positivity and the spirit of community. It gives me some hope for the future, which I'm certain will be quashed by whatever happens Monday.
Thanks, K.C., and congratulations to your son and his fiancee!
Our second story along these lines concerns a gentleman named Fred Taylor, who earned a degree in music from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA. He was unable to attend his graduation ceremony, however, because by the time it happened, he was already very busy in Europe fighting Nazis. As chance would have it, the family that Taylor started upon returning home included daughter Linda, who went on to be a professor at... Cornell College. Once she brought the matter to the attention of the administration, they were happy to have a war hero receive his long-deferred recognition. And so, he walked, and formally received his diploma last week... at the age of 101.
And finally, to complete the trio, let us take notice of Abby Bailiff, who has been completing her Ph.D. in nursing at UNC Greensboro. Needless to say, completing a Ph.D. is none too easy. It gets rather harder if you are simultaneously working full-time as a registered nurse. It's even harder still if, for the last 9 months of your doctoral program, you're pregnant.
Bailiff's due date was a week before her graduation, and so she expected it would not be too hard to manage both events. At least, not too hard for someone who is capable of earning a Ph.D. and working full time while pregnant. However, the universe had different ideas. Her due date came and went, and then, one day before her graduation, the doctors said it was necessary to induce labor. So, Bailiff delivered her son at 3:08 p.m. on May 3 and then, feeling well enough to be on her feet, walked in her doctoral hooding at 3:00 p.m. on May 4. There just can't be that many people who gave birth and graduated in the span of 24 hours. Especially since roughly half of all graduates can't pull off the first half of that.
As K.C. observes above, graduations can be great events, as long as schools avoid toxic commencement speakers. Well that, and also not jamming 20,000 people into a poorly air-conditioned space on a hot June afternoon.
Have a good weekend, all! (Z)