Tell me about your college graduation. Did you attend? What do you remember about the setting, the people, and the experience?
I graduated from college, Summa Cum Laude, at the end of the Summer quarter of 1980, or six years after my start in September of 1974. I did not attend the graduation ceremony for a number of reasons.
First, I really don’t like graduations or other similar celebrations. I had to attend my high school graduation for the sake of my parents but skipped the party afterward in favor of going to the “Bus” campsite. School was not where most of my social interaction occurred and I never developed an affinity to high school. It was simply, for the most part, a place to get an education. Running track was the only sport I played and even as people may view it as a team sport, it’s really a group of unrelated events, except a few relays, so if a couple of other teammates also ran my event, the two-mile, we only saw each other at the beginning and end of the race.
High school was also complicated by the 1973 merger of my all-male Chaminade and the all-female Julienne, replacing the laid-back culture of Chaminade with the confusing and frustrating regiment brought by the nuns of Julienne. While they might, or might not, have a good understanding of teaching girls, they failed miserably at relating to boys and our more aggressive nature. To say my senior year at Chaminade-Julienne was rough is an understatement and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Giving the nuns the satisfaction of my presence at the post-party was not going to happen.
Second, attending a college commencement after six-plus years meant that I would know absolutely no one, as the class that started alongside me in 1974 had either graduated or quit long before 1980. Large graduations always occur after the Spring quarter, and a Fall ceremony would have far fewer graduates. Getting a diploma in front of a small and unfamiliar group made no sense. I was happy to just receive it in the mail.
Finally, by the time I graduated I had been working full-time for over three years, first at Wright State University and then Hobart Corporation. I had been married for over a year, had a wonderful, brand-new darling daughter, and was fighting a court battle to get my wife’s son from her parents. Yes, that’s as weird as it sounds. So graduation for most is an ending of school and a beginning of a job search and it’s a good time to reflect on the past and imagine the future. Since I was already well past all that, what was the point of spending some money for a cap and gown, pretending to be excited about an event that held no real meaning for me?