A Toast to the New Grad
Michele Dickey P'10 talks about the bittersweet emotions surrounding her daughter's graduation and reminisces on her daughter's Haverford experience.
We leave tonight for Haverford College to begin the graduation festivities, which seem to be increasing in number. We have our clothes, gifts, dinner reservations, and right now I am calm. We are gathering with other parents, some we’ve met before but others we “know” only through the parents’ listserv—we’ve even exchanged photos to help recognize each other. I’ve shared a lot with these new friends via e-mail—twelve in one busy day as we related where we were in our preparations—and I’m eager to see them. But I think that’s the only “eager” I anticipate.
We are, of course, happy, and oh-so-proud of our graduating daughter, Lauren, of her hard work, grades, loyalty to crew, orchestra and percussion ensemble, Newman and her job at security. (She worked her last shift Senior Week. I asked why she didn’t get a substitute so she could enjoy the waning time with friends; she answered, “I thought it would be nice to spend my last shift with the guys at security.”) Every pre-graduation event—breakfast, reception, speeches by honorary-degree recipients, baccalaureate mass, family celebratory dinner that evening— marks off another increment in time toward that march in cap and gown, when she will cross over from Haverford student to Haverford alum. She will leave the proverbial “Haverbubble” to continue her job search unimpeded by papers, voluminous reading assignments, and other academic rigors. But most sadly, she will separate from this nest of wonderful friends. How perfectly her dorm’s suite came together, with members hailing from as close as New Jersey and as far as Washington State. Can such bonds be formed outside academia? How long will it take to form another circle of friends who come find her for meals, chat far into the night and greet her with tea if her train is late?
I am at the point where I can count down hours.
It is 6:15 graduation morning, and I feel nervous. It is surreal.
* * *
Graduation is now three weeks in the past. Everything went splendidly—good seats (was it significant that the two families who arrived before us were also parents of “onlies”?), glorious weather, excellent photos and meaningful speeches. Lauren kept on her gown and cap until the last possible moment for photos with friends, family, and professors. Although there were tearful partings later in the day, that night brought a perfect culmination of a special day, maybe even the special four years. We shared triumphant toasts at Philly’s oldest pub with family and friends from Texas and England, then boarded a bus to tour the city by night. I’d proudly told the guide as we climbed aboard, “Brand-new Haverford graduate here!” The kindly tour guide soon led the top of a double-decker bus in a round of applause for the new grad!