Well, I am officially graduated. Am I exhilarated? Yes. Am I proud? Extremely. Summa cum laude (Highest Distinction). Did last night go perfectly? No. As is often the case with our family, things didn’t go quite as planned. Maybe I expect too much. Things went okay; there were just some glitches along the way, and I ended up upset. Am I childish and selfish? Sometimes. I wanted the day to be special. Was it? Yes. Things that I expected to happen didn’t. Did Hubby make it home? Yes. Did Hubby see me graduate? Yes and No. Did I get lots of pictures? Yes and No. Did I have family waiting to greet me and take my picture as I came out of the auditorium? No.
Son #1 went with me, and I had that awful, nervous, gut-twisting stomachache. My usual pattern is I get nervous ahead of time, and once I’m there I am fine. That was the case last evening, too. Once I said goodbye to him at the car and started inside, I was fine. Hubby and son #2 went in our other car to pick up my mother-in-law, and son #1 waited outside for them to arrive.
Once inside the Theater on the Ridge, it was chaos. It was hot, loud and crowded. There were students everywhere with their family members (I was one of the few who was alone). No one was moving anywhere. I was surprised to see one of son #1’s oldest friends working the reception desk in the lobby. I pushed through the crowd and spent a few minutes talking with him. Then I went in search of a restroom. I put my mortarboard on my head inside the ladies’ room. When I came back out, the crowds were moving in a wave towards an escalator. I joined the crowd.
At the top of the stairs, we had to get in a chaotic line (A-L) and (M-Z) where we received a 3×5 card with our name on it. Mine had two red stars stuck to it (I assumed this was to indicate my Honors degree). We were told to hang onto the card and not lose it as we were to hand it to the guy at the podium when we went up on stage. We all then moved down a hall (without our families) to a large cafeteria area. In the cafeteria, our different degree areas were posted on signs on the walls, and we were told to join our groups. We sat at tables and talked. It wasn’t too bad until they insisted we line up by group and alphabetically. This was 15 minutes before the program was to start. Not so much fun to have to stand for 15-20 minutes. People that got out of line and started milling around again got yelled at. I thought that was unnecessary (the yelling).
At just after 7:00, we started to walk towards the stage. When I went down the aisle, I had to pause at one point to wait for others to be seated, and I happened to look to my right and saw son #1, waving at me. I waved at my family and sat down. Once seated, I opened my program. I flipped to the section for the Interactive Media Design Students, and I didn’t find my name. I kept flipping and found five names listed at the very end under “Online Candidates”. I was listed there. My family saw this also, and they assumed I’d walk the stage at the very end of the night with the other online people. I considered texting them at one point and telling them we were alphabetical by group (I was in with the other INMD students), but I didn’t for some reason. That was dumb on my part. I assumed they’d see me when I stood up. Another stupid assumption. I also almost texted them to say “NOW” when I got up, but there was only 4 people in my group, and it was a short walk to the stage. I didn’t want to get caught with the phone in my hand when I went on stage or worse yet, drop it while trying to cram it back into my pants pocket.
The program was long. They had speakers and singers. It was hot. When they began to hand out the degrees, it went fairly quickly. When I went up, I handed my 3×5 card to the guy at the podium and he said, “Donna Florack, 4.0” and I went across the stage. I only heard a polite smattering of applause, and I knew immediately (instinctively) that my family had not seen me. I smiled and walked across (other students pumped their fists, raised their hands, waved and celebrated). I focused on the guy who was waiting to shake my hand and hand me my degree and I kept going. I came off the stage, and a man against the wall congratulated me, I said “thank you” and sat back down again.
When I got back to my seat, I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket. I pulled it out to find a text from son #1 saying he was livid. My family had not been prepared for me to walk across then. They thought I was at the end of the evening so no one was paying attention. My oldest son got no pictures. My youngest son got two hurried blurry pictures with my camera. I at least have those.
My husband and mother-in-law were not even in the auditorium. My mother-in-law is 91 and as luck would have it, she needed a potty break at just the right time. They were just leaving the auditorium, and she heard my name. I don’t think she saw me. Hubby ran back with camera in hand and took a picture. I’m not sure what it is – part of the stage and door. I can’t see me. I don’t think he did either. He was outside in the hallway.
An additional comment on the evening, on the summa cum laude page of the program (summa is spelled wrong!), I am listed, and I have an asterisk beside my name. At the bottom it says, “* Gold cords presented to graduates with the achievement of a GRADE POINT AVERAGE of 4.0”. I had no gold cord. I had my Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society stole, but I bought that myself! The school goofed there. I saw students in the cafeteria area with the gold cords, but I had no idea what they were for. If I had known, I would have made sure I had the gold cord that I was supposed to be wearing. I believe I was supposed to receive the cord when I picked up my cap and gown, but someone screwed up.
When the commencement ended, I walked up the aisle with the other students. I went right past where my family had been sitting. I expected to see them there, taking my picture as I went by. They were gone. Not knowing they had already left, I went out into the crowded hallway outside and stood waiting for them, thinking they’d be along at any moment to take my picture and congratulate me. Nope. I waited in vain. I finally got a phone call from son #1. They were outside already. It took me a long time to get through the crowd and make it outside myself. I talked to my son’s friend again at the reception desk, and he told me my Hubby had left 20 minutes ago. They had left early to get my mother-in-law outside before the crowd knocked her over.
We got a couple of pictures in the parking lot, but by then I was exhausted from the full day and let the glitches of the evening get to me. Yes, I’m childish. I cried. It was a big night, and it meant a lot to me. I did my part to perfection. It was the things that went wrong around me that got to me.
So graduation is done. I am proud of what I accomplished. I enjoyed the heck out of school and learning as an older student. Did I enjoy the graduation ceremony? Yes. Did it go as I’d planned? No. But that’s okay.