Graduation season is upon us. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah once stated, “There is a good reason (why) they call these ceremonies ‘commencement exercises.’ Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.” This nugget of truth certainly rang true recently, as our own daughter stepped upon the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. While she will further her education in the fall, it is truly the beginning of her career as a teacher. It’s exciting and terrifying, all at once.
Bearing witness to a child’s graduation is one of the finest moments in a parent’s life. We appreciate the hard work that our children have put forth, whether they’ve pulled “all-nighters” to get a paper written or have spent weeks in memorization for final exams.
Emotions run high, especially as the graduates file into the arena to the processional, “Pomp and Circumstance.” Pride, relief, gratitude and sheer joy are just some of the feelings that a parent experiences as they watch their own child reach for that coveted diploma. It’s certainly a bittersweet moment, for the graduate is about to embark on a new path outside of a school setting. The journey into the “real world” is about to begin, and one cannot help but feel a bit anxious for one’s child as they navigate these unchartered waters.
On May 5, LIU Post planned their commencement exercises on the Great Lawn of the campus beneath a large white tent. However, mother nature wasn’t very compliant that day, and offered her own gift of inclement weather. The ceremony was switched to the Pratt Center, which meant that each graduate would receive a limited number of tickets. Outdoor seating would have allowed students to invite up to six family members to the event. With more than 900 graduates that day, only three tickets were given per student. This posed a bit of a challenge, as we had four guests.
LIU Post provided accommodations for extra guests by offering viewing sites around campus. Each viewing area provided visitors with comfortable seating to watch the commencement on widescreen TVs. However, the sites were clear across campus. This meant that those turned away at the door had to brave the monsoon to hoof it to the Tilles Center or Hillwood’s Little Cinema. As a member of Post security mentioned, “Don’t feel badly. They’re going to be much more comfortable than you.”
Did I mention that rain on your graduation day is supposed to be good luck? Several parents consoled each other with that little tidbit as they filed into Pratt. Apparently, rain has been a frequent guest at LIU graduations, for it poured in previous years as well.
Much like that hot day in June on the bleachers of Hicksville High School four years ago, my stomach lurched as the names were read for the conferring of degrees. Although a good part of the ceremony was viewed through the lens of my camera, I caught a glimpse of our girl as she ascended the steps to the stage. All thoughts of rain, wind and storms were cast aside as she accepted her diploma. Much like the Grinch, my heart swelled three sizes that day.
In the upcoming weeks, many of you will be experiencing your own child’s graduation, whether it be from campus life, high school or even from pre-k. You will encounter your own rollercoaster of emotions as you witness your own “proud parent moment.” Ed Koch once said, “The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.”
Our children have the power to become a spark of hope that can change the world. Parents, congratulations on a job well done. Have those tissues handy, as well as your cameras.
Graduates, I wish you the very best as you begin this new journey in your lives. Be the spark, light the fire and change the world. Your story is unwritten, so make it a best-seller. And to my own girl: Congratulations, sweetheart. You’re going to be an incredible teacher, and you will make a difference. I am so incredibly proud of you.
Congratulations, Class of 2017.