Saturday, May 01, 2010

To understand what graduation means to someone...

...you need to look into their eyes.

I had the pleasure of being seated in the front row for today's Point Park University commencement festivities, and my spot placed me directly in line with students as they came off the stage.

The university has a tradition in which its department chairs and other faculty can greet those students as they reach the floor, where they can share a handshake, a hug or a final moment together. If you have had the pleasure of attending or teaching at a small college or university, then you know that the faculty-student interaction often leads to strong bonds being formed.

Today those bonds were evident. (And, yes, as the acting chair for the Department of Journalism, I had the chance to congratulate many School of Communication graduates seconds after they received the folders that will contain those all-important diplomas.) Countless numbers of students shared a warm moment with a faculty member or two who made a difference to them during their academic experience.

I saw eyes light up as someone embraced one of my colleagues. More than one person closed their eyes -- fighting off the tears was futile in some cases -- as they said "thank you" or a similar term of appreciation.

At one point one of my colleagues from the university's Department of Education said that she thought a photographer ought to have been placed where she and I and a few other department chairs were seated. She was right; the ability to capture in a photographic moment a student and teacher celebrating the important achievement in a young person's life would have been a priceless moment.

Commencement is a wonderful event, and I hope I never grow jaded about attending such a ceremony.

1 comment:

amperri said...

Anthony, this blog post reminds me of why I want to attend grad school...especially back at Point Park. I definitely needed a reminder. Thanks, Annie