Whew! Yesterday was a long day! Apparently, it is a tradition at CPCC to select graduation marshals from PTK members who are not graduating during a given ceremony. As I mentioned previously, I felt fortunate to be selected as one of the marshals for yesterday’s graduation ceremonies. Except for a break of a few hours in the middle of the day, we were at the arena from about ten in the morning to ten in the evening working two ceremonies. The first one was for graduates of the adult education and GED programs at CPCC and the evening was for CPCC’s 50th graduating class of college students.
Sadly, I did not have a camera of my own on hand, rather I am relying on the wonderful shutterbug friends around me. The picture above is of myself, peeking out from the back, along with my fellow PTK members who were also selected as marshals. The day went fairly smoothly.
I was really looking forward to participating in the graduation ceremonies and I was not disappointed in the least. It has been my desire to be involved with my college and this was a wonderful chance to be more involved. I wanted to experience something of what I might enjoy next spring and I certainly got to do that. I had a chance to directly congratulate friends and be a small part of their moment. The best part of the entire experience was unexpected however. I could not have asked for a better job on the floor. I got to guide each graduate back to their seats. A small task, since hopefully they would vaguely remember where they were sitting, but it afforded me the opportunity to greet each and every graduate as they returned from walking the stage.
In the case of friends and acquaintances, how could one ask for a better and more immediate moment to share some part of your happiness for them. For people I did not know, it was a very nice feeling to share that moment with them, however peripherally, and taking pleasure in the fact that they have persevered to accomplish something that you hope to yourself. Not to wax overly poetic, but in the time it would take for each graduate to return from the stage, one had an extended snapshot of the person to study. The range of reactions, emotions, and faces was a worthwhile experience all by itself. Faces from so many places, so many ages, with so many experiences. Emotions dancing across their faces, ranging everywhere from joy, to simple pleasure, to introspection, perhaps even concern of some kind. I’m far from a psych major obviously, but if one paid attention, their was such a range of humanity to be absorbed and experienced in the faces and body language of each graduate as they returned to their seats. It was very much a worthwhile experience that I would happily repeat, given the chance, but for the fact that I expect to be on the sitting end of the next ceremony and dressed just a little differently.
Unlike many things in life, this experience was largely what I had hoped it would be, with the addition of that pleasant bonus I just described. Next spring will be my very first graduation from any actual school and I plan to enjoy the hell out of it! I also look forward to sharing it with new friends, friends who will share that ceremony with me, and family that might be able to make the trip. I have so many reasons to keep working and plugging away, but we can add this one to the list nevertheless. It was another nice little morale boost going into the final leg of this part of my journey. They say it is the journey, not the destination that matters. I think of that sentiment at times like this, when I have a chance to pause and take in some of the scenery along the road.
In the meantime, my inbox has provided me with a reminder that, for me, school starts right back up again on Monday. An email introduction from one of my summer semester instructors reminds me that I need to get by the bookstore again and get right back into things. No rest for the wicked! I suppose the abuse, in this case, is entirely self-inflicted though.
Speaking of abuse… My final grades for the spring semester are finally in. A “B” in chemistry was disappointing, but not unexpected. There were a lot of factors that contributed to the difficulty level of the class, some of them inherent to chemistry, others that should not have been an issue; but most of my disappointment was that I did not find a way to overcome those issues more successfully. Just have to keep working on that. Everything else worked out just as well as I had hoped. Math, as always so far, has been a huge challenge, but I did manage to fight my way through that it would seem. I say that, but my fight will not really end until I feel like I am more up to speed on math and not struggling quite as much. On to trig!
On an odd side note, I noticed something in the graduation program that caught my eye. It is an oft cited concern that there are not more STEM graduates and majors. While this observation has no particular meaning, in and of itself, something in the program did jump out at me. The back of the program listed all the graduates by the degree that they had earned. While there was quite a number of different diplomas, certificates, and degrees, I largely took note of the standard A.A. and A.S. degrees. Of all the graduates, nearly 800 of them were Associates in Arts degrees. In contrast to this, there were only approximately 150 Associates in Science degrees. Now there were other science oriented degrees and about 90 nursing graduates, but A.A.s and A.S.s are your standard degrees that transfer to universities under North Carolina’s Comprehensive Articulation Agreement that governs the transfer of credits between community colleges and universities in this state.
That A.S. degrees made up only about 16% of the wholly transferable degrees jumped out at me vividly. Now, this is not necessarily meant to say that some of those A.A.s might not choose science majors later on, or the reverse, the number simply jumps off the page. I won’t try to take one ratio, from one graduation, at one college, and turn it into some kind of greater analysis, but I will simply say wow! In fact, as a matter of mitigation, I will say that a very close friend of mine will likely take an A.A., even though they do intend to study the sciences later. It is simply a matter of how their course selections worked out in the end. Still, that said, WOW!
Moving right along… All and all, it was a pretty nice week. Congratulations to everyone who graduated!!! Regardless of whether your destination ends up being what you expected, I sincerely hope you enjoy the journey!