Graduation Day, Part 1: Pomp and Circumstance

Pre-ceremony. Note: This is NOT the correct way to wear the hood.

As I referenced in a prior post, Graduation started about 1:00 p.m., when all graduates were due at Cameron to get organized.  I use the word organized very loosely, as it was clear that very few people (including myself) read the directions to anything other than the time and general location!  From how to properly align the detached hood to where to meet at what time, CCMBA’ers were wandering around like it was Day 1 in London.

After taking a few pictures at the front of the stage with my Mom and Wife, I wandered around on the floor of Cameron glad-handing everyone who I didn’t catch up with at Bull McCabe’s the night before.  Once I realized that nearly all 120 of us graduates were going to be in attendance, it was tough not to run around and try and talk to every.single.person before the ceremony.  But alas, 1:45 p.m. arrived quickly, so it was time to walk up to the ‘Hall of Honor’.

In many ways, it was strange to be in the ‘Hall of Honor’.  First, the Hall of Honor represents many years of Duke tradition, but it’s the basketball tradition.  So on one hand, there was the realization that when each of us walked across the stage, we’d be part of something much bigger than ourselves as part of the Duke family.  On the other hand, who could pay attention to the pomp and circumstance of graduation when looking at all of the great student-athletes featured on the different pillars.  (I don’t want to jinx it for those guys, but I swear there were two empty pillars there just waiting for Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith…)

Hall of Honor - 15 minutes before Graduation

At this point, I lost track of time, but it was probably 2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. before we marched outside in the oppressive humidity to prepare for the entry back onto the floor of Cameron. While we were lingering in the Hall of Honor, Maria had the terrible job of trying to herd all us cats into wearing our hoods properly, faux hand-ironing those who took their gowns straight from the packaging, getting us into alphabetical order, and generally keeping us from running around crazy…all while using an underpowered red megaphone that nobody could hear over the roar of graduation excitement.  Note to staff:  1)  Get a better megaphone for next year and  2) If you put that megaphone down, it is not safe; someone like myself will grab it and try and make an announcement.  So, either teach the “next me” how to work the megaphone, or another siren will sound next year.  Fair warning  :)

After standing outside long enough to break a sweat, we finally entered into the stadium split into two parallel progressions to take our seats.  With faculty and staff on stage, the moment became that much more poignant.  If there were still any lingering doubts about what we had accomplished (remember, most of us had already completed class 5 months before), seeing Dean Blair Sheppard on stage with faculty members from different residencies on stage removed all doubt.  Of course, I suppose those who had just completed their concentrations a week or so before might not have known (?).

Either way, just walking in to Cameron would’ve been enough of a graduation memory for me.  Little did I know how great the speeches and presentations would be…


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