Let Me Regale Ya: The Two Sides of Convocation

If you’ve spoken with me about Convocation–either last year when I graduated with my BA or this year when I graduated with my BEd–you likely know that I enjoy it about as much as getting an unnecessary root canal. I’m not good at sitting for long periods of time, I feel awkward on stage, and I’m constantly frightened of looking entirely unamused on the big screen. Large crowds make me anxious and exhausted and I legitimately could not breathe at one point during the reception this year. It’s not my jam, to say the least.

Everyone always asks, “Do you feel any different now that you’ve graduated?” and I don’t. Having a hood thrown over my shoulders doesn’t make me feel like I’ve achieved something. When I delivered a ballin’ presentation, when I aced my honours paper, when my professors commended my work–that is the feeling of accomplishment, of transformation, of success. In my mind, Convocation is for my parents, not me–and that’s okay.

But this year, I had the peculiar experience of working my own graduation. I took the afternoon of my ceremony off of course (to appease the parents), but I worked every other ceremony, handing out regalia to graduates. Having the opportunity to be backstage as opposed to onstage really shifted my outlook.

How does handing out hoods and gowns to hundreds of people change my perspective? I’m not going to pretend it’s high-octane and life-changing, and I can’t say I would’ve felt this way had it been another year that I worked regalia. But the neat thing about handing out hoods and gowns to people is that those people are some of my close friends, and my students from when I worked in Residence, and people that I’ve seen grow over their three or four years at Nipissing University.

University is a shared experience, not an individual one. I consider myself to be an amalgamation of all the people I’ve met, and a lot of people who have helped define me just walked through Nipissing University’s doors for the last time. Whoa. That’s weird and cool and freaky and strange and scary and a lot to take in. The world is shifting on its axis for us graduates. So, do I feel different now that I’ve graduated (again)? No. But I do feel proud and loved and grateful, and that works for me.