On Saturday, Lebanon Valley College held its commencement ceremonies, and so I was there in my exceedingly green robes and velvet tam. [Note: I finally got the grown-up version of my academic regalia, and I really wish it was still de rigueur to wear them for teaching because they’re awesome and comfortable and warm. But I’d hate to get tea and chalk dust on them, so it’s probably for the best that we don’t wear them on the regular.]

I love graduation, baccalaureate, and convocation, especially when the speakers are good, and since it’s our campus practice to have the winner of the previous academic year’s highest teaching award deliver the commencement address, the speeches are strong and very specific to our campus and our students, which I appreciate. And Rev. Dionne P. Boissière was our invited baccalaureate speaker, and she was absolutely riveting in her address, which also hinged on justice and imaginative possibility.

This year was particularly special because it is my third year at LVC, which means that some of my own advisees graduated, students with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work for three years, through multiple classes, independent studies, honors projects, and extracurriculars. Last year, and even my first year, I knew some of the graduates, and I got misty about it (as always), and I’m still keeping up with the many wonderful things those students have gone on to do, but this year felt a little different. I had graduates who were still new at the same time I was new here, and new in similar ways: not brand new; they were sophomores and I had been teaching full-time for a good while. We knew the lay of the land, but there was also, perhaps, the sense of calibrating our confidence—being in the right place, the right major. I had just moved across the country again; C had just moved from biology to English. I was deciding how to be me in a brand new department; J was deciding to declare a second major. We grew into this place together.

2017-05-13 13.19.41
This was a gift from one of our seniors, J, who heard me call this paragraph, on many occasions, “My favorite paragraph in the English language.” Yes, I cried when I found it beside my office door.
Now, I have a few little loose ends to tidy up on the semester’s end, but already the glass points toward autumn: new student advising happens this week, and I’m excited to meet the students who will soon begin telling their stories at LVC. Those new students will step into very large shoes, indeed. 

2 thoughts on “commencement

  1. Once, when you lived in a different part of the country, I took a creative writing class you taught. It was perhaps one of the first serious steps I’d taken as an adult to try to pursue my passion. Then we moved, and my writing was derailed for several years, but I found it again. And I think of your class often. It acted as a mini map that helped set me in a direction when I wasn’t sure where to start.
    I always wish you the greatest success in your writing, and I’m glad to see you’re still teaching. You have a way of encouraging and inspiring people.


    1. Mandie, this is the most wonderful thing in the world to hear. I’m so, so glad that my class was able to have a positive impact on your writing life, which seems to be thriving! (And that you were in one of my classes explains why I’ve been wracking my brain to understand why your name and author photo look so familiar.)

      Thank you, as always, for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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