I watched fifty mass media majors cross the stage at graduation this morning, and I felt proud and happy. This is the first class to graduate substantially under my leadership as chair, and it gave me a bit of a jolt to see my name on the program above theirs.
It made me think about beginnings, and endings, and mentorship.
This ceremony was also the last to be officially attended by my good friend and colleague, Mavis Richardson. I left her with a selfie, a hug, and a promise to go and get coffee during her retirement. An ending? A beginning?
It made me think about the importance of ceremony to mark such things.
I advise all of my students to take part in the graduation ceremonies to which they’re entitled. They’ve earned the right. But more than that, the ceremony marks the transition. It marks the end of one thing, and the beginning of another. It gives one time to reflect, a day to remember, and a specific moment to point to and say, “I did that. I achieved that. What’s next?”
It made me think about my own transitions.
Life has been challenging the last few years. I took over leadership of the department. I became a late-in-life parent to two tiny girls. I broke my leg. But I also achieved some things. I published a book and another book chapter. I achieved promotion to Professor. I was awarded a sabbatical. And this coming sabbatical year marks a transition for me, too. To what will I aspire as my career moves forward? What’s next? How can I help these little girls be their very best selves as they grow? What’s best?
And so, we commence. Through this transition, to the next, with ceremony, closure, and eyes on the horizon.