Notes on Winter Commencement 2013 -->

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Notes on Winter Commencement 2013

Hillary, Rachel, and Nik at commencement
Writing Center Tutors at Commencement (Hillary, Rachel, Nik)
By Hillary Wentworth, Writing Consultant

I’ve worked for the Walden University Writing Center since May 2010 but never attended a commencement ceremony. This past January I finally did. I sat in the upper part of the auditorium, among the 4,000 or so other guests from around the world. Even though the remarks by Dr. Heller and the commencement address by Dr. Tererai Trent were moving, something else seemed more profound.

Cheers and hoots echoed from the tiers of seats as graduates marched onto the floor in cap and gown. A scream of “That’s my mom!” rang out when an EdD doctoral student was hooded by her committee chair. Applause—and pride—erupted in the people around me as a student’s name was spoken. And it was catching. A woman in another row who didn’t even know the PhD student said, “There you go, Dr. Tony!” In other words, what inspired me most was the friends and family. The people who’d stood by the graduate through years of schooling, who’d traveled thousands of miles to this very hotel, simply to watch several seconds of glory on a stage.

Graduates at commencement
Graduates file in (above); opening remarks (below)
I have to admit I cried. As I was dabbing my eyes with a tissue from my purse, I said to myself, This is silly. Why are you getting so emotional? I couldn’t really explain it. After all, I’d only worked one on one with a small fraction of the individuals graduating. (I recognized some four or five names.) But then I thought of the achievement, of the sacrifice, and of the great humanitarian works these degrees would allow graduates to do. I thought also of my own parents and my husband who had supported me through undergraduate and then graduate school. How much whining and cursing and misery I’d put them through—and how much pride they’d shown on my graduation day. It seems, then, these degrees are not just our own but our families’ too, and our friends’.

Commencement speaker

Of course, the individual accomplishment cannot be diminished. You have put in the time, the research, the reading of serpentine scholarly texts, the writing. Study these photos; they mark your end goal. And once you’re there, at the end, remember who it was who gave you those pep talks.


  1. I am looking forward to my momentous moment in the summer...yippee!!!

  2. It will be a great moment, Emanuel! We'll be cheering for you!