As I reflect on commencement, the 15th one I have presided over, I thought I would explain a couple of my traditions. The first one I explained at the baccalaureate (above with Jazmin). I normally attend the graduation rehearsal but we were at City Hall for a presentation, so I used part of my greetings to give instructions. When I give the diploma I have my arm around the graduate so we are shoulder to shoulder. From a practical perspective it helps ensure the picture looks good. It is familial rather than sterile.
But I also told the graduates it was a reminder that although they are leaving Dillard they are always part of us, and that we have to stand with them. In fact, we all have to have people with us when we are in the “real world” because life has its challenges. So it is just a subtle reminder that although they have a degree in hand ready to begin a new journey, they are not alone.
I already posted about the senior shout outs. I have carried on this tradition I saw at Albany State University as done by President Portia Holmes Shields. It made the ceremony a little more personal, so I have continued to do it as well. You can read the stories here:
Senior Shout Outs
When I was vice president for student affairs at Albany State University, our president, Dr. Portia Holmes Shields…
Adrienne, pictured above, tweeted about her family’s response to the shout outs.
The final tradition I also got from Dr. Shields. She always allowed faculty or staff members who had children graduating from Albany State to present the degree to their child. Again, always a special moment so I have done the same. We had 2 this year and it was special for both families.
The little things still matter. A lot.