It's official, The Hek is a University graduate.
I was a bit apprehensive about going to my graduation. It just seemed like something that was in the way, a roadblock. It was something that was causing me to miss three paying days of work. I did not want to see the campus again after living there for four years. It was a finished chapter; it was history, and I just did not want to revisit it. I wanted to move on. I just wanted to grab that silly piece of paper that said I know something about some topic. A piece of paper where I spent large amounts of money for, had many sleepless nights and sat in classrooms learning about how people take life way too seriously; trying make a perfect society out of a forever imperfect world.
However, after going through the graduation a mere 48 hours ago, I am here to say that I am glad that I went, and that it was all worth it.
I recall the thoughts of my friend Noel who, graduated with a Masters in International Affairs. Noel had nearly forgotten about his graduation. Amongst his job, his soon move to Washington, the daily grind, the wonderful bliss of marriage and the taming of a dog and cat, Noel's graduation was last thing on his mind. But when his ceremony occurred, it all came to the forefront. Noel was greeted with a great sense of relief and accomplishment. This was how I felt as well.
There is something about seeing all the friends you have made the last four years. We all started this journey together; and now, we all finish it together. There is something about standing in a line up for nearly forty-five minutes, decked out in a suit underneath a robe. You are boiling hot but ignore this feeling with anticipation and excitement. There is something about walking unison into a giant fieldhouse. It is then when it hits you. Everywhere you look there are proud parents, family members and friends. They are all smiling with tears in their eyes. Cameras go off so fast that you feel it is all coordinated. The room is filled with tears, laughter and most importantly, pride.
And then, you hear the bag pipes and a precession of dignitaries walks by you. I will never understand how the bagpipes are the only instrument to hit all my emotional points.
Finally, the ceremony begins and everyone is introduced. The most important man in the room in the Chancellor of the university. Carleton's Chancellor was none other then Marc Garneau, Canada's first ever astronaut. We are informed that for the moment we are simply "graduads" and once we shake hands with the Chancellor, only then do we become "graduates."
The ceremony was full of inspirational dialogue as well as the appropriate pomp and circumstance. I remember most of the ceremony. The only part that was fuzzy was when it was my turn to receive my diploma.
I remember going backstage.
I remember entering the stage.
I remember an official nonchalantly fixing my robe.
I remember being motioned to move the centre of the stage.
I do not remember moving to the centre.
I remember standing in the centre.
I do not remember having the hood put over my head.
I remember only hearing parts of my name and my degree; "Eric Ray Ro............High Honours."
I remember a little applause.
I remember my mother jumping up and cheering wildly.
As if time slowed down, I remember moving at a laid back pace to shake hands with Mr. Garneau. What impressed me the most was when he said: "Congratulations Eric. Job well done."
Garneau remembered every singel name that was read out. It was not like the President of the school who snuck a quick peak at the lable on the back of the degree folder. Don't get me wrong, the President's conversation with me was also sincere. But there was something about having the Chancellor speak to me that made the whole thing personal.
The ceremony will always be in my thoughts. I do have some pictures which I took with a disposable. One of these days, I will scan them in.
So to all those who offered me their congratulations and to all those who supported me throughout this journey of discovery, thank you. It all means so much to me.
To all those who will graduate in the future: Go to your convocation. Yes, it will be long and you will probably boil in that gown. But trust me when I tell you this, it is all worth it.