I am now officially a U of T graduate. This Tuesday, I crossed the stage of Convocation Hall, shook the president’s hand and held my hard-earned degree in my hands for the first time.
It has felt like I’ve been done for a while now – it’s been almost three months since my last class and two since my final exam, and future-planning for grad school and hunting for a new apartment are already underway. Yet having Convocation as a final celebration with my family and friends drove the reality home even further: I don’t go to U of T any more. I did it!
The ceremony and tradition of convocation is pretty fun – how often do you get to hear a room packed with 1,600 people cheer for your four years of hard work? But more than the speeches, traditions or Latin addresses, I remember the moments I shared with the people that are important to me. First seeing my family as I processed into the hall, waving and taking pictures of the moment. Watching the friends I made over countless late nights in residence walk up onto the stage. Hugging my family after finally finding them in the crowd streaming out of Con Hall.
Without the support of all of the people I shared the ceremony with, I wouldn’t be where I am today. For my whole life, my mom has inspired me to push myself when it comes to school, and her support (both emotional and financial) means the world to me. My sister is my best friend and kept me going with late-night chats on visits home and over Facebook. My grandma, who I was fortunate enough to get an extra ticket for, has always been encouraging and helped me out along the way. My friends helped me find a much-needed sense of community in this big city. My boyfriend, present at dinner later in the day, has inspired and supported me in countless ways since we met in my third year. Thank you all, so, so much!
Thank yous aside, here are some new small things that I learned over the course of the morning ceremony:
- The correct way to wear the fuzzy hoods is right up against your neck, not draping down across your chest.
- The hood will choke you multiple times throughout the day.
- It takes a surprisingly small amount of time for the 464 people before you to get across the stage.
- Convocation will make you feel a little famous, between the rapid-fire photographs to keep track of who you are and being in the background of the family photos of those sitting around you.
- You can write how to say your name in pencil on your card. I tried four different ways before settling on “Elaine-a”, but I didn’t need to worry. They had a linguistics professor reading out the names for a reason.
And now, excuse me as I go stare at my fancily-printed degree for a while.