Friday, May 15, 2009

Cap and Gown

Tucson, Arizona. The University of Arizona has its graduation ceremonies this week. Many colleges (the university has quite a few) have their own events limited to their own students. The College of Education had its ceremony yesterday morning at Centennial Hall for both graduate and undergraduate students.

Wearing a cap and gown for the first time in 26 years, I was moved to have an experience so completely different from that which occurs getting that first degree while so young. Back then life occurred as an infinite sea of possibilities, and it seemed like we were the center of the world. From the late forties instead of the early twenties, I saw those feelings again yesterday among the undergraduates about to cross the stage and turn their tassles before beaming parents wiping away tears. I wonder what roads they will traverse, what bright spots and dark despair lies before them on their version of the 26 year path that took me from where they stood yesterday to where I stand today. Where, but more importantly, who will they be in 26 years?

My first degree came from a college of engineering with graduates destined primarily for corporations. Yesterday’s ceremony graduated those pursuing careers in education, bright mostly young faces eager to commit themselves to educating both the young and not so young, some training in physical education, special education, and (yours truly) higher education. As I listened to the speeches and statements of the speakers, it dawned on me that I was amongst those truly committed, in a way I’ve not seen often, to helping others, and profoundly so. I am talking about the expansion and development of the very way others see the world, their associates, their friends, their loved ones, and their lives. Such perspectives reflect a different universe from the obsession with making and accumulating money, and by the latter I refer not to the engineers of 26 years ago, but to the characters in a more recent past.

In a way difficult to capture with words, I suddenly had the experience of belonging, of being with souls not unlike my own. I certainly took the long way home, but it is starting to look like I am getting there. Many of the words spoken on stage were intelligent, articulate, and touching, but I was most struck by the concluding remarks of an undergraduate student completing her bachelor’s degree and destined for a classroom somewhere in our K-12 system. Speaking of teachers and teaching, she said, "In the eyes of the world you may be one person, but in the eyes of one person, you may be the world."

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6 Comments:

Blogger The Navigator said...

Nice and thought provoking.

Good for you. When you're ready, I'd like to know more about where you are going and what your position will involve.

5/15/2009 7:31 PM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

The above post makes it as obvious as ever why x4mr was a TERRIBLE fit in the cloth world of TREO and the rest of the schmucks.

You are clearly moving in the right direction. You have come a long way in these past few years, a long way indeed.

I am still right here. I wish I had your courage.

5/16/2009 8:42 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/16/2009 2:37 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Cigar Man,
Courage is certainly a factor, but ultimately it is about making a choice.

I suspect you have many options.

X4mr had more options than most of us because he is single, brilliant, and relatively young.

However, anyone who read "Something Else" knows that X4mr's choices have been unconventional since the day the copper mine closed.

He could have updated his resume and had multiple six figure job offers in multiple cities. All of us know that.

If you want to understand X4mr, you have to go back to the day the mine closed. The journey starts there.

There is more here than just courage.

It is about making choices that are not in your own best interest because you believe there is something of greater importance that must be defended or fought for.

Ultimately, it is about your values and beliefs and the depth of your connection to them.

5/16/2009 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Liza is spot on and there is another word for it:

SOUL.

I share Nav's interest in what is next, x4mr. Whatever you can share at the right time would be most interesting.

5/16/2009 7:39 PM  
Blogger AZW88 said...

Hey, Matt, congrats and godspeed.

Just as an aside, when I was an undergrad, I was involved in planning and executing the first of the College of Ed's separate graduation ceremony about 22-23 years ago.

5/18/2009 6:06 PM  

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