I was really impressed by the well-executed graduation ceremonies this past weekend, and had some observations that I would like to share.

Firstly, goodbyes are tough.  We may mask them with hoorays and ceremony, but underneath the joy is a bit of sadness for the grief of transition.  This is true for even the cynics and the grass is greener folks out there because, to mix my metaphors, sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.  Transitions mean uncertainty, a certain amount of anxiety, and the development of new successful patterns.

Next, don’t forget about Hugs.  This seemed to be the main message that Tom Brokaw was trying to communicate.  The information technology age can do a lot of things, but it cannot (at least not yet) substitute for real, genuine human interaction.  I don’t think the man with every award in his profession and tens of millions of dollars in the bank was being trite by suggesting that hugs and empathy will always be better than the next iPhone.  So approach technology with a people first attitude.  We have to somehow get through this flawed world that the previous generations gave us!

Women are taking over and men are supporting it.  I thought this was a great sentiment by Provost Marc Manganaro.  I touched on this in a March blog posting.  We really have a built in gender revolution in the American workforce that is represented at Loyola in the classrooms.  We’re in the process of dispelling the myth that the outspoken woman is a “bitch,” and replacing it with the idea that she is just speaking and that her ideas are probably good ideas.  This happens through education, but it also happens through constant exposure to good ideas from women.  Not surprisingly, this happens a lot at Loyola.

Humility.  Think about it.  I had the opportunity to sit on stage and watch as every graduate walked in front of their family and friends.  I noticed something that I thought was peculiar.  The students that were jumping up and down as they walked or giving shout outs to those in the crowds were not the same people with cords for graduating with honors.  I mentioned this to a colleague and she replied somewhat cynically, “Welcome to Life.”  I’m not saying that celebration is bad and I may have missed some of those that countered this observation, but I think there is a lesson in humility in there somewhere.

Finally, happiness comes through connection.  The biggest smiles that I saw were not from the people smiling with their diploma.  The biggest smiles I saw were students making eye contact with a favorite professor, close friend or a proud parent.  These were genuine and lingering smiles that were infectious to others around them.

-Logan Williamson, LPC
University Counseling Center

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