June 18, 2011 - 5:50 PM
Some people go to one graduation. I decided to go to three. On top of that, I decided to attend three different graduation-related events. The way I saw it was that I might as well go out with a bang. When would I have the chance to graduate with a Bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon again? Exactly. Therefore, it is go big or go home. Luckily, my delightful entourage of friends and family put up with my graduation excess and were there to cheer me on every step of the way. Even luckier is the fact that this "entourage" has put up with ME every step of the way and has been there to cheer me on through the highs, lows, and plateaus of the college experience. It truly was nice to have people there who I knew supported and loved me.
The Graduation Extravaganza of 2011 began for me on Sunday, June 12 with the Planning, Public Policy and Management department's pre-commencement ceremony. Out of all of the various campus groups and programs that I have been a part of during my time at the UO, I have found the most connection with the PPPM department. I love its faculty and staff, classes, and general ambiance. Somehow, someway I found the PPPM department by the end of my freshman year and that small act managed to change my life. PPPM truly set me off into a direction that I am excited about. It gave me the tools and support I needed to enter into the world and effect positive change. Therefore, going to the PPPM pre-commencement ceremony was important to me. I saw so many faces of people I admired and felt the quaintness of the PPPM community. The ceremony recognized graduating PPPM students and announced different awards that they received throughout the year. I was also quite excited at this event to be awarded the Michael Hibbard Award for outstanding work as an undergraduate in the department. The only downside of this event was that I had to leave a bit early since I had another event happening during the same time.
I shuffled off with my friends and family to the next event, which was being held next door in the Gerlinger Alumni Lounge. Based on my academic performance, I was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honors society in the nation. Sunday was the initiation ceremony for PBK. The ceremony was nice, including speakers and a demonstration of our new secret handshake. We were also presented with our honors cords to wear for graduation.
The final Sunday event was scheduled to occur a couple hours after the PBK initiation ceremony ended, but things turned out to be a bit more complicated. My first graduation, the Honors College Commencement, was set to start at four. So, at 3:15pm, I headed over to Johnson Hall like I had been instructed to do. I won the Barbara Corrado Pope Award for my thesis and, since this would be presented at the commencement, I would be walking in with the faculty and other award winners. The award I won was given out to a thesis that passed with distinction and addressed issued of diversity and equity. Anyway, once in Johnson Hall, we were briefed on how our ceremony would proceed on the Memorial Quad outside of the library. However, as the time passed, Oregon, which had been sunny all morning, decided to show its fickle nature. It began to pour. Not only did it pour, but there was also lightning reported. In the end, our commencement was moved to Hayward Field (where the graduates still managed to get drenched) and started an hour later at five. It was quite an adventure, if nothing else. The Honors College was resilient and we shared some good laughs over the whole situation. I enjoyed my few minutes of fame, standing in front of the audience while they read my thesis title, comments on its distinction, and my future plans. Once this moment was over, I went back to huddling into a tiny ball inside my graduation gown in order to keep warm. My graduation cap (which has a cardboard interior) was mush by the time it got home, but we managed to flatten it out enough to make it to the next day.
And so, this brings us to graduation day two - Monday, June 13. I am not a morning person. When my alarm went off at 7am on Monday for the campus-wide graduation ceremony, I seriously considered just hitting the snooze button until it eventually no longer let me and at which point it would be too late. However, my good friend, Kelly, had earlier convinced me to go and I was on the "go big or go home" train already, so I managed to pull myself out of bed and once again decorate myself with my green cap and gown. My best friend, Kate, was also in town from Boston. Kate graduated last spring. How unfair is it to separate BFFs on graduation day though? Therefore, Kate managed to find her cap, gown, and even honors cords from last year so that she could come graduate again with me in the big UO ceremony. It was pretty funny. We had a great time walking through Hayward Field, sharing commentary on the commencement speakers, standing up with our departments, and hugging over our great accomplishment - for today and for yesterday. In the end, I'm happy that I woke up for the big ceremony. It was just a lot of fun and it felt really neat to walk through the big "O" and feel like I had truly finished.
My graduation from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts wasn't until 3pm, so in the meantime, I took some of my friends and family over to the grand opening of the Ford Alumni Center. I must say that this is quite an extraordinary building. It is a neat center for alumni and it was fun getting to go take my picture with the Duck! I love that a lot of the wood used in the building was taken from fallen trees on campus and around Eugene.
After mingling around campus a bit and taking some time to relax, it was finally time for my last event of the Graduation Extravaganza 2011. It was time to get the coveted diploma cover. In a couple of hours, I would officially be done. My time as a Duck would actually be over. It was a weird feeling. I lined up with my fellow students receiving Bachelor of Science degrees in Planning, Public Policy and Management and then began the wait. This graduation was much different than my Honors College ceremony. I was hot and dehydrated this time around - got to love Oregon! As I walked into the ceremony, I looked up into the crowd to find my family and friends. I felt such a tickle when I would find them and get to wave. I couldn't help, but smile. This was kind of a big deal. I carried the euphoria of graduation with me through as much of the ceremony as I could, but I have to admit that eventually, there were just too many names being called. PPPM was in the back of the crowd and it is quite incredible how long it can take to read so many individual names. I zoned out for a bit, but then it was our time. I'll never forget the moment I shook the Dean's hand and received my diploma cover. I actually really did feel accomplished. It had been a truly exciting couple of days.
My dear blog readers, you are now in the presence of a Duck alumna!