I attended my first graduation as a professor last weekend and I thought it would be neat to bring my camera with me and take pictures from my point of view. Luckily, professors are supposed to be quirky and eccentric, so no one questioned the fact that I was toting along my DSLR and snapping pictures during the processional like a member of the paparazzi. So, for your amusement, here’s what graduation looks like from the faculty’s point of view.
The picture above was taken while we were lined up in the tunnel and waiting for our turn in the processional. There was a lot of standing around and waiting and a lot of lamenting about the need to wear the ridiculous mortar board hats. It seems like nobody likes to wear those hideous things. In fact, I think at this point, the only difference between us and the students is that we had the good sense to wear comfortable shoes.
Then it was time to file in. We came in from behind the stage and walked by our students on the way to our seats. I unabashedly waved to my kids and snapped this picture, to which they ruefully shook their heads. I’m going to miss those boogers next year. Well, most of them.
We finally took our seats on the side of the auditorium and waited for the dignitaries to file in. The room was abuzz with excitement and thankfully, it wasn’t long before we got the show on the road.
A huge flag unfurled from the ceiling and one of the professors from the Music Department favored us with his baritone rendition of the National Anthem. I was surprised by how many of the students and professors sang. I was not one of them. I’m sure my neighbors were thankful.
There was a (blessedly) short keynote speech and then it was time for the degrees to be conferred. I’m always amused by the various reactions of the students when they get their degrees. I’d say for the most part, the students are serious and reserved, but there’s always a handful of attention seekers who flash their Greek affiliations or who proudly raise their diplomas over their heads. Not surprisingly, the expressive students are the ones who have family members with air horns and noise makers. Go figure.
Finally, there’s the one student who takes the attention seeking behavior above and beyond. Please see exhibit A.
Yes, your eyes are seeing correctly. That particular student, a Construction Management major, is wearing a hard hat. He had hidden it under his robes and put it on his head right before he crossed the stage. The administrators gritted their teeth through their smiles, the audience laughed and he had a final moment of rebellion. I’ll tell you one thing, I’m sure his teachers were happy to see him go – I bet he was heaps of “fun” in class.
I can’t help but think of the reality check these sheltered kids are about to get. As seniors in a small school, they were on top of the world this last year and unfortunately, they’re about to be at the bottom of the barrel and hopefully, some of them will have the resilience to fight there way to the top.
On second thought, keep your hard hat on kiddo, you’re going to need it.

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