other things i’ve been up to in May: commencement

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Even though I defended my dissertation last July, and have had my diploma since October, I figured that since I live in town, I may as well take part in commencement. I was actually asked to be one of the student marshals, which meant that I got to carry around a stick with ribbons tied onto it, and put people in alphabetical order. Nifty. M kept calling my regalia a “costume”, and she’s not wrong there – it’s a pretty silly get-up! But it was kind of fun to get to hear my name read, walk across the stage, and shake the university president’s hand (while being handed a tube with no diploma in it, since I already got mine in the mail!)…

Whitney getting a tube without a PhD (the real thing came in the mail in October)

…and get hooded:

Whitney being hooded.

Unfortunately, my rental regalia had a tam that was too small for my head, so it ended up being precariously perched on my head in a very uncomfortable manner during the entire ceremony. I was more than happy to plop it onto M’s head afterwards!

Post-commencement: M wears the silly hat.

Of course, we had to take photos of me all gussied up in my academic finest:

Closeup, with my dorky smile.

(I’m doing that dorky thing where I stick my tongue between my teeth while smiling…WHY do I do that??)

Taking a photo of mama in regalia (finally got commencement-day photos off the DSLR)

(M insists that her rhythm instrument is a camera, so my picture is actually being taken twice over!)

She's taking my closeup :)

(She’s taking my closeup!)

Me and my girl (finally got commencement-day photos off the DSLR)

I love that M got to be part of the photos we took – she and the dissertation “grew up” together, after all :)

Me and my girl, on commencement day.

That hood did NOT want to stay on my shoulders!

So, that was commencement. The graduate-student era of my life is officially no more, and I couldn’t be happier about that – life is so much better now. I’m proud of my accomplishment, but I do hope that M grows up knowing that a Ph.D is not something I expect of her…that she has worth and value regardless of the degrees she obtains, and that I’ll be proud of her for choosing a path that makes her happy and fulfilled, whatever it may be. I’m sure there is value in having high expectations, but I also know from my own experience that once a thing is expected of you, it robs a lot of the joy and pride from accomplishing it…you were supposed to accomplish it, after all, so nobody’s going to be surprised or impressed that you DID. Anyway, this is just something that I’m very conscious about, having been the child of a professor, and having never really seen paths outside of the academic one in my life, or rather, having never really felt that I had those other paths as options (I wasn’t actually so blind as to think those paths didn’t exist). I’m very happy with where I ended up, teaching writing to college freshmen – I can’t really think of a better job for me. But I definitely want M to know there are other things out there that are just as (or even more) worthwhile and she’s good enough no matter which of them she chooses. I’ll cheer and celebrate her accomplishments in any domain!

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