Thursday, December 6, 2012

Loren's Graduation, Part 2: The Big Day

Drum roll please.....  Here it is, the big day, the culmination of years of hard work, the official end to our family's time in Cambridge:  Loren's commencement!  Obviously it happened a while ago (ha!) and I would be lying if I said that details weren't at least a little fuzzy now, but we've got to get through this event so I can move on to telling you about Idaho.  The main thing people should get out of this post is that a Harvard commencement is a big deal.  They've had 375 years to figure this whole tradition out and oh boy, it does not disappoint (even if there were so many people that we missed actually seeing some of the action.)

First, the Yard gets all decked out.  They set up hundreds and hundreds of folding chairs, decorate the light posts and buildings and set up an elaborate security system so only the lucky people with tickets can get in.

When the day finally arrives, your graduate has to leave home at an obscenely early hour to go have breakfast at his house, while you, the family members, only get a bit more sleep.  That's because you have to get to the Yard early to try and beat the crowds and get a seat that actually allows you to see what's going on.  I wouldn't give us full points on that one.

Our group dutifully got up early and tried to walk quickly to the Yard, but I was wearing uncomfortable heels and we had a 3 year old with us, so we didn't make the best time.  We finally got in and secured seats, then I took a cab back to our apartment because my feet were not going to last the day in those shoes.  I got to the apartment, changed into flats, then rode Loren's bike back to the Yard, where I then had to meet various family members and give them their tickets, while leaving other family members to guard our seats.

Then the ceremony started.  When you're dealing with a large university, just getting all the students in there takes a long, long time.  I stood on my chair and was able to catch a glimpse of Loren and yelled to catch his attention, so he had some idea of where his fan club was sitting.  Once everyone made it into Tercentenary Theater, the sub-section of Harvard Yard where Commencement happens, the Sheriff of Middlesex County called the meeting to order.  Commencement must be the best day of his year, because he gets to dress up, wear an old-fashioned hat and pound a walking stick on the platform to get everyone's attention.

After the sheriff, some songs and a prayer, came the student speeches.  The one made by an undergraduate was in Latin - yes, he wrote an entire, lengthy speech in Latin - and was read with quite a bit of gusto.  That somewhat helped to alleviate the length, but it still seemed long.  Two more speeches, a poem read by Seamus Heaney and some more introductions, and then it was time for the main event!  Because this first event was for the whole University, President Drew Faust asks the students to stand based on their school (College, Law, Medical, Divinity, etc.) and confers the degree earned upon all of them at once.  The ceremony wound down after that, then it was off to Leverett House, where Loren got to walk up and get his actual diplomas.

If you can't tell, that's Loren's designated chair

Of course all of the houses/graduate schools are also decked out.  I should mention that a lovely friend offered to watch Sophie during the big Commencement ceremony, then returned her to us so Sophie could watch the smaller, shorter bit at Loren's house.

Our contingent cheered like crazy when they called Loren's name.  In the picture above, he's standing in line, waiting for his turn.  He's wearing a red Master's hood, because Loren earned his Bachelor's and Master's in Computer Science, all in four years.  My graduation was incredibly emotional for me and Loren's was no different.  It's an indescribable feeling of accomplishment, joy and relief, when you realize what your little family has done.  Being able to celebrate our degrees with each other and especially with Sophie, made them feel much more meaningful.  I am so proud of you, Loren!

Now, cue the pictures.  It's like having wedding photographs taken, because you have to appear with each group of your family, in all combinations.  We were blessed to have Loren's mom, two of his brothers, one of their families and my parents come to celebrate with us.


With the actual diplomas!

The whole gang- thank you for coming!

Loren with the Dean of Leverett House and his wife, aka "Chief" and "Coach"

Loren and Lauren - Resident Dean of Lev

Plus we saw some friends!  - with Alexis and Alisa

And now, a few outtakes!

Daddy's chair!  Maybe one day that will be Sophie's name...

Blame the hood

Playing the flute.  She did great making it through a long, hot day!