May 1988. Graduating from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. With Distinction (GPA 3.5) which earned me a white cord on my black gown. Black mortarboard set horizontal on my head, with a black tassel. I’m not sure that it even had the year of my graduation on it like my high school graduation tassel did. I can’t find a picture!
And this is actually the corrected version of my diploma, since they misspelled my maiden name on the original. And then had the audacity to charge me extra to print a corrected version! After all the money I . . . oh, wait, I had scholarships to pay for everything for college. Well, don’t ask me for any money! Anyway, May is about college graduations and weddings.
My brave niece, Emily, is graduating one weekend this May and getting married the next. Obviously she’s very laid-back. If a Type-A like me tried that you’d end up with a sobbing non-grad and a bald-headed bride.
I adore weddings. Traditional weddings, non-traditional weddings, I love the whole concept. I enjoy looking at dresses, flowers, centerpieces, cakes, and especially all the tiny details that make it special for that particular bride and groom. I could browse Pinterest wedding boards all. day. long.
But graduations are another thing. They annoy me to no end. Why? Because unless you are receiving a degree in basket-weaving from the University of Pixiedust (mascot: Unicorns) it is a serious academic ceremony and should be treated as such. The Inter-Collegiate Code of Dress for the Unites States is fairly straightforward for Bachelor’s degrees. Long gown (closed) with matching mortarboard (undecorated). The only sashes, cords, or pins allowed to be worn are those earned through academic merit. I noticed a tasteless trend last year and failed to comment on it in my annual graduation rant, but it’s evidently a common occurrence now. If you want to pledge your undying allegiance to a Greek organization or send a positive or negative message of some sort to the masses kindly do it on a T-shirt under your academic attire. Or tattoo it on your forehead if you feel that strongly. I don’t care. Just try not to upstage the people who have actual academic achievements to display after their four (or more) years of hard work.
As far as weddings go, paint every surface Tiffany blue and drape it in diamonds or get married naked on horseback. It’s your day – make of it what you like. But graduations are for all those attending. Drunken family members screaming when your name is called is tacky. Smuggling alcohol into an early afternoon graduation was a new one for me this year, too. Seriously – I’ve never heard of that until this year. And it wasn’t a student. I will keep saying this year after year until my great-grandchildren graduate (hopefully).
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