Thursday, June 26, 2008

You're an Alumni! Now give us money Part 3

Finally, here is the last installment in my Convocation. I can't believe it's been three weeks since I became a graduate!

We filed into the amphitheatre, marched onto the stage and filled the seats. The entire audience was standing and some professor was pounding away on the giant organ that dominates the stage. All I could do was smile because he reminded me of "The Phantom of the Opera" version with Lon Chaney Sr. I felt as if I'd intruded on some archaic cult meeting. Professors I didn't know were wearing funny hats and all you could hear was the organ, bright and brash thanks to the great acoustics.

But, as the grads filled the seats on the stage and on either side of the organ, I noticed the line I was in continued up and up and through a doorway. We weren't in the auditorium and longer and I started to panic. I was graduating right? I'd received confirmation of my convocation so where were we going and more importantly where was my seat?

Fortunately I didn't voiced these concerns as we filed back into the auditorium through another door and were seated on these oh so cushy, high-backed seats. I felt a little sorry for the grads seated on stage. I was tucked away on the side and could relax, slouch even if I so chose.

There was a problem though. Remember how I spent about an hour trying to memorize those instructions for not looking like an idiot while graduating? I was seated right above the presenter, the podium and the mark where I was supposed to stand. The problem was I couldn't see any of that from where I was sitting.

The stage was beautiful though. The Chancellor's chair and the base for the mace were decorated with native symbols. We were told to be seated and a professor came out carrying this giant glittering mace. We then had to recite 'The Pledge'. This involved swearing a blood oath and promising our first born child and a healthy endowment to the university. Okay I'm kidding but it did sound very cultish. It was more along the lines of promising responsibility and loyalty when it came to accepting our degrees.

And then there were the speeches. When I first looked at the program and how many of us were graduating and the number of speeches, I thought we were going to be there all afternoon. Strangely enough I was wrong. The speeches were concise, heartfelt and inspiring.

Then the degrees were handed out. My degree was practically last on the list so I devoted my eyes to watching exactly what everyone before me did. The only parts I could see though was when the student knelt, the Chancellor tapped them with his cap, moving your own tassel, accepting a degree and what I thought was an Alumni pin.

The Chancellor barely gave anyone the chance to kneel as he whacked them with his cap. Some poor girl's boyfriend shouted out "I Love You!" from the crowd as she crossed the stage. You should have heard the audience titter at that. Finally, my row was escorted down to the stage. I of course, being the first in line for my degree was trying not to hyperventilate.

First someone checked I had my name tag, someone else checked the pronunciation, and another checked my name off a list. So many people to keep this well-oiled graduating machine going. I was told to wait as everyone clapped for the last degree conferred on graduates and then my turn. Step up to the mark, find the camera, smile, wait for your name, cross the stage, remove cap, kneel, get tapped, replace cap, move tassel, accept degree, accept pin.

My degree came in what looked like a five cent duotang. Later my parents told me that they'd received these nice padded display cases when they'd graduated. UVic is cheap man, really cheap. And that pin I was supposed to receive, turned out to be this flimsy little wallet to keep my 'alumni card' in. That's when I realized I didn't know how I should get back to my seat. I could only smile at the professor standing at the bottom of the stairs and start to climb.

When I reached my seat there was this great sense of relief. I was a graduate! When I ceremony ended I raced outside to get some nice pictures with my family. I also purchased an over-priced frame for my degree because there was no way I was going to let it languish in that duotang. There was some free food to be had, I returned my cap, gown and sash to get my deposit back and went home for my grad party. Overall a very satisfying day.

Now I just need to buckle down and set an appointment for grad photos. Otherwise I'll never hear the end of it.

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