Grad Tidings

It’s graduation time. I wandered through the urban oasis that is the University of Toronto campus this past weekend and the place was positively glowing with the aura of accomplishment.

I did not attend my university graduation. I was scheduled to work at the local television station (I started as an intern a couple of years before) and I did not see the sense of giving up a day on the job when getting the job was the reason I went to school in the first place. ( I know others will cluck their tongues and say that it’s all about education, not necessarily employment. Cluck away!)

I was not compelled by family pressure to walk across the stage in the long robe and flattened hat. My mother’s early passing had forever fractured our family dynamic. If the diploma was going to arrive quietly, anonymously in the mail a month later, well, that was just fine with me.

I also lacked that warm and fuzzy glow about the place I went to school. It’s a much-heralded institution ( ivy-clad in all the appropriate spots) but frankly, it’s done nothing but bother me for money since the day I left. Often this borders on a kind of higher-learning harassment. Stop it!  You got my tuition. That’s it.

Many, many years after I did graduate, a former professor paid a week-long visit to a television station where I was working in another city. He sat around and observed. I believe he was wearing a tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows and smoked a pipe. The day before he was slated to leave town he phoned me at home and proceeded to remind me that television was an ‘ intimate ‘ medium. The message was that he clearly did not like my style…which. admittedly, has never been soaked in subtlety. It still isn’t.

I was a little stunned by this professor’s comments, to say the least. By any measure, my career had been a success. I earned a good salary. I had the respect and friendship of colleagues. I had won just about every award the industry offered to someone at my level. So….who was this guy? More than anything else, this encounter convinced me that my original educational path had been true. Convocation or not, I took what it had offered and made it work for me.

I have one son at a university now. When he graduates, if he chooses to don the mortarboard and gown,  I would love to be there. Like any proud parent, I will get more than a little misty watching him walk across that stage to get his degree. But I won’t have any regrets that I never did the same.


4 Responses to “Grad Tidings”

  1. Dave, love your attitude!

  2. I didn’t finish high school Dave due to a chaotic homelife. It wasn’t because I couldn’t cut it (I passed grade eleven with honors). I later obtained my high school diploma through correspondence courses and couldn’t see the sense in attending the graduation ceremony. Who the hell would I know there? ; not even my teachers! (I had to mail my lessons away to be marked). When I mentioned this to the person in charge she told me that I was making a big mistake. She said it was important to celebrate my achievement so I reluctantly signed up, donned the blue cape and cap and instead of feeling proud of myself for what I had accomplished, all I could think about was what I had missed by not graduating with my classmates from high school. I was filled with regret.
    I watched my daughter graduate from UOW a few years ago and I can honestly say that was one of the happiest, most fulfilling moments of my life. I’m sure you will think of your mother when you watch your son graduate. I hope it’s a great day for both of you.


  3. Dave
    I missed my University Graduation ceremony too! I was working at the time and didn’t feel I really needed to attend the ceremony in order to prove I crossed the finish line. For those that love the ceremony I think that is fantastic. For me, well I know I have my piece of paper and I don’t need anyone to put an extra stamp of approval on my accomplishments. I did it! BTW I’m still thinking about going back–never too old to be educated.

    • Jeorgee,
      I know so many people who have gone back and it must be really rewarding. First of all, I think that you powers of concentration are heightened after you’ve got a few more decades of life under your belt. Plus…you’re there because you really want to be there. Makes a big difference.
      Thanks for the comment.

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