Posted by: David Stewart | July 6, 2012

A 21st Century Graduation Ceremony

I’m incredibly proud of our lovely and talented Anne, who graduated from the University of Oregon in June!

Anne Stewart's graduation at University of Oregon

The graduation ceremony at UO is pretty different from what I experienced, and i wondered if I’m the only one. For reference, I went to a large state school as well (Colorado State University), and I wonder if all of the big schools have now changed their format.

There was a big ceremony in the basketball arena, with the jumbo TV screen showing a prepared video of comments by seniors and a multi-camera tracking of the seniors marching across campus and into the arena. It seemed like they spared no expense here to show off their video prowess.
Anne Stewart's graduation at University of Oregon

Now don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun seeing such a flashy entrance. If I was expecting a bare-bones presentation, that wasn’t what we got.

Anne Stewart's graduation at University of Oregon

The comments and remarks were quite memorable. One of the candidates running for Portland mayor was the keynote speaker. Quite memorable was when he told the seniors, “You might be screwed” because of the poor economy, but his main point was to suggest that the graduates find an alternate definition of success for their lives and consider public service.

There were also some moving stories from students who were pretty special, like the refugee from Afghanistan.

Once the big ceremony was completed, each college department threw a separate commencement event for their students. And here is where things really departed from my own graduation experience.

Anne graduated with degrees in English Literature and Japanese, so she could have attended the ceremony at either the English Department or the much smaller East Asian Studies Department. Since they were both held at the same time, she chose English.

Anne Stewart's graduation at University of Oregon

The guests and graduates were seated under the trees in front of the ornate library where Anne worked her school job. There was a string quartet playing, which appeared to be a feature of all of these department events.

Anne Stewart's graduation at University of Oregon

Outside ceremonies, string quartets, even a cake and punch reception. Wow, that’s a pretty big departure from my experience. Anybody else surprised?

It was indeed a special moment for our special daughter. (And make sure you check out her shoes!)

Anne Stewart's graduation at University of Oregon

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