Monday, May 13, 2013

A 33rd Commencement

Counting my own 2 commencements I think the commencement I attended yesterday at St. Michael's College  was the 33rd I have sat through not counting several high school commencements and, dare I say, even a kindergarten commencement!

They tend to be always the same except for two major differences; the commencement speaker and, of course, the individual students who are graduating. This year saw some wonderful students graduate with their teaching degrees and licensure recommendations. Many of them have already secured teaching jobs which is a wonderful testimony to the quality and reputation of the St. Mike's teacher education programs. One in particular, Callie Lumbra, was one of two valedictorians at this year's commencement and has been just a wonderful student to work with during the past four years. What makes Callie's achievements more significant is that her mother, Joan, was one of the first students I worked with at Trinity College when I first came to Vermont in 1982: I think she graduated in 1985. For this to happen on mother's day was especially significant and really brings special meaning to the phrase 'like mother, like daughter'.

The other wonderful thing about yesterday's commencement was the graceful wit and generative wisdom of Mark Shields, the commencement speaker. Having seen him many times on PBS and other, commercial TV news programs I always had the feeling there was more to him than meets the eye. This was certainly shown to be true as he regaled the audience with humorous advice, serious rules and finally, a word of hope that as difficult as it might seem to accept sometimes, politics is still the best way of solving our differences. His one piece of advice I think I shall always remember is not to worry about what other people are thinking of you as they are too busy worried about what you are thinking of them!

One of his other pieces of timely advice to the students was to "call your mother". I certainly wish I had heeded this advice more often before my mother passed away eight years ago.     

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