Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New Graduate

My daughter graduated from college this weekend. We're proud of her: she finished with honors in 3 years with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion. After taking her last class online during the summer while serving as a camp counselor, she started divinity school this past fall.

Graduation ceremonies are full of traditions - something which we often overlook but should pause to reflect on:

  • Pomp and Circumstance - written by Sir Edward Elgar, is actually one of a series of marches composed for orchestra. The lyrical strains we hear at graduations is known as the Trio section "Land of Hope and Glory" of March No. 1. It was first played in 1905 at the Yale graduation in which Elgar received an honorary Doctorate of Music.
  • The Campbell University Mace - The academic procession is led by the Commencement Marshal, carrying the official mace of Campbell University. This tradition has a fascinating history in academic ceremonies. In 1589, Queen Elizabeth I visited Oxford University. At a special convocation in her honor, students speaking in Latin were lavish in their praise and flattery of the Queen, pretending to love her. They assumed she was unfamiliar with Latin. As a gesture of her thanks, the Queen stood and gave an eloquent speech in flawless Latin and presented Oxford with her royal Mace.
  • Academic attire - The traditional academic robe with mortarboard goes back to medieval Europe. Modified throughout the centuries, it is now common for undergraduates to wear a plain black robe while graduate and doctoral students wear hoods of varying colors and decoration. The faculty section of the ceremony was a rainbow of institutions reflecting the various academic fields.
  • Bag Pipes - Reflecting the Scottish heritage of the founder of Campbell University, a lone piper led the procession, followed by the banners of the six schools of the University.
  • Military Connections - Campbell is located close to the largest Army, Marine, and Air Force bases in North Carolina. The school has long-established educational relationships with these bases. The largest and longest clapping at the ceremony was for the newly commissioned Second Lieutenants from the ROTC.
While I love history and traditions such as these, I think of them as bridges to the future rather than anchors to the past. It's the same way with the education my daughter just finished (and is continuing).

The education is finished - now the learning begins.

Congratulations, Amy - your Mom and I are very proud of you!

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