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More scenes from graduation weekend 2017

Rather than attempt coherency, in this piece I report briefly on a variety of experiences from the second half of the weekend. These are a bit shorter than my previous scenes, perhaps because there were more of them and because I’m dealing with a day of joy and sadness [1].

Graduation stage, Monday morning [2]. I hand Eldest his diploma. He makes me shake his hand before I can give him a hug.

Baccalaureate, Sunday morning. A student has told me that I have to be there. I look at the program. I see that they are on the commencement committee. I see that they give honorary degrees toward the end, and that student is giving one of them. I put two and two together.

CS graduation breakfast, Monday morning. We blow two sets of fuses [3] trying to brew coffee for the breakfast.

Graduation stage, Monday morning. A bunch of students go awww as I step onto the stage [4].

President’s social, Sunday afternoon. President Kington is handing every graduate a copy of Choosing Civility and saying something like This is my counter-cultural gift. It’s so wonderfully snarky. I also know that he feels strongly about civil discourse, since he’s been talking about it since the moment he arrived on campus. I hope everyone reads their copy [5].

Baccalaureate, Sunday morning. Brigid Carmichael gives an awesome testimony to her Grinnell education through her words, through her poise in speaking, and through the crafting of her speech. Everyone I talk to agrees that, in spite of the pickup truck comment, it was perhaps the best thing we’ve heard said about Grinnell [6].

Dinner, Monday evening. I’ve crashed that class of 2001 mini-dinner, just to say hi for a few minutes. Remember just how wonderful these students (and their spouses) are. I still feel a connection to that class.

Before CS graduation breakfast, 7am Monday morning. Five students have appeared to help me set up because they know I’m self catering the breakfast. All of them are supposed to be packing up their rooms, but they know I need help. A few of them stay after the breakfast and clean up [7].

On my computer, Monday evening. I get photographs of me handing Eldest his diploma. I think those are the first photographs of me in a while that I’ve really liked how I appeared [8].

President’s social, Sunday afternoon. A parent says Thanks for taking my daughter to see Jonathan Richman [9].

Dinner, Monday evening. I hand the Women in Computing shirt to Emily Gordon. Dr. Nanjiani says That’s so cool. Did you know that there’s a scene in the movie in which she’s wearing a shirt with a brain on it?

Graduation, Monday morning. Sitting in the faculty section. The person next to me leans over and asks about a student on stage: Do you know what they are doing next year? I say, Yes, they are managing a team of forty people [10].

All day, graduation day. Parents tell me how much their children have told them about me. I don’t remember telling my mother anything about my professors [11]. Still, it’s probably a good thing that parents know about me [15].

Class of 2001 dinner that I’ve crashed. A graduate reminds me that they elected me an honorary member of their class at their tenth reunion.

Graduation picnic. People keep coming up to me and saying things about Eldest’s three majors, all with honors, and one concentration. How did he manage that? I didn’t know that it was possible to have three majors, let alone get honors in all three. He takes a surprising amount of space in the program.

Writing this essay. Realize that I have a bunch of other people I can now muse about, if I ever restart the Grinnellians you should know (or know about) series.

Graduation. Kumail’s speech [16]. Spend most of the time laughing. Particularly enjoy the A conversation is like a text message, except you use your mouth joke.

Monday afternoon. Learn that Vivek wrote the text message joke. Go Vivek!

President’s reception, Sunday afternoon. Learn that the Student Commencement Committee fought about who had to give me the honorary degree [17].

Graduation breakfast, Monday morning. I’m amused at and appreciative of how many mini Pledge of the Computing Professional ceremonies John Stone is willing to hold for those who skipped the primary one [18].

Baccalaureate, Sunday morning. Hear wonderful speeches by Mike Latham and by Katya Gibel Mevorach. I am so privileged to have awesome colleagues like them.

Tuesday morning. Try to verify claim that I was elected an honorary member of the class of 2001 at their tenth reunion. Learn that it’s possible that no one actually records honorary membership from reunions [19].

President’s reception, Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the great cheeses. Particularly appreciate the beautiful carving job that Judy Arendt in catering has done with the melons.

Graduation breakfast, Monday morning. Learn that one of my students is wearing seven different stoles for graduation. Never manage to find out what they all are [20].

All weekend: Note that I am thankful for the hard work of Rachel Bly and her staff in Conference Operations and Events, the DAR staff, the Registrar’s staff, the FM folks who have to deal with so much infrastructure, the Communications staff who keep people informed, and everyone else who helps make graduation a success.

Writing this musing [21]. Realize that Kumail and I both have two degrees from Grinnell, one from 2001 and one from 2017 [22].

Graduation picnic. Watch way too many people ask Kumail for selfies. Wonder how his friends ever get time to talk to him in any depth.

End of graduation day. Reflect on discussions with alums, graduates, and current students. Remind myself, once again, just how fortunate I am to have a job in which I have some impact on these amazing young people.

[1] I’m happy to see folks graduate. But I’ll miss these students. And my interactions with the alums remind me of just how much I like spending time with certain groups of students.

[2] I think it was morning. Graduation went pretty long.

[3] Or trip two sets of circuit breakers.

[4] Yeah, they’ve figured out what’s going to happen.

[5] Since I am an honorary graduate of the class of 2017, I snagged a copy for myself.

[6] I would encourage Admissions to pay her $10,000 for permission to use parts of the speech

[7] Sarah DA also helped set up and clean up. Thank Sarah!

[8] I like the grey-bearded, bushy-haired, robed old guy look, at least for myself.

[9] Nope, you don’t get the backstory.

[10] It’s amazing what a degree in Political Science prepares you to do.

[11] Okay, I did tell my mother that I called her friend Jane Ellen in the middle of lecture [12].

[12] Yes, I acknowledge my privilege. I am a large, white, male, son of professionals [14].

[14] While my mother earned a Ph.D., my father never finished his bachelor’s degree. But that did not stop him from rising through the ranks at Polaroid.

[15] Or claim to.

[16] Since his speech was before the awarding of the honorary degree, I’m calling him Kumail rather than Dr. Nanjiani.

[17] had to, got to, they are more or less the same, right?

[18] I’d like to allow students to keep their stoles. But they cost us $20 each, and I don’t have the much in my budget. Most don’t seem to want them enough to pay $20 each, so it’s probably okay that we just take them back.

[19] Should I claim it anyway? That graduate would not lie to me.

[20] Let’s see … AppDev, Pledge of the Computing Professional, Commencement Committee, Student Government, Home country stole, and two more. Probably service and ….?

[21] Or musing on this writing. Or something.

[22] More realistically, he has a real degree from Grinnell in 2001, I have an honorary class membership awarded a decade later. He has an honorary Ph.D. from 2017, I have an honorary class membership. He has a million twitter followers. I have 262.3.

Version 1.0.1 of 2017-05-24.