Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ten: Rice Graduation

Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Rice University's graduation ceremony. I knew several people receiving degrees this year, so it was a good excuse to check out a ceremony steeped in tradition.

The processional started by the placing of a wreath on Willy's tomb.

The statue to the right is of William Marsh Rice, who's lifelong earnings helped to found Rice 100 years ago. The student's lovingly refer to him as Willy, and, to be honest, I had no idea this was his actual tomb.

After all of the faculty and university administrators processed in, the students begin their walk into the graduation "field" set up outside. (Yes, Rice conducts graduation outside. In Houston. In May. In a stroke of extreme luck, a cool front blew in the day before, and it was a nice, cool and dry morning for graduation!) The undergraduates proceed in by residential college.

They also receive their degrees by college, having their names read out by the College Master.

While it was fun to see the traditions of Rice on display, it also brought me so much joy to watch the excitement on everybody's faces.

Graduation day is a wonderful time for everyone involved. There was a pulse, a feeling of excitement and achievement palpable in the air yesterday morning.

That alone made it worth it to attend. Seeing as graduation is a long, long process, however, after the commencement speaker (David Brooks) spoke and the PhD candidates walked the stage, I looked at the program and saw the HUGE list of MBAs and other Master degrees still left to call BEFORE all of the undergraduate degrees and decided I was hungry. After a quick breakfast at McDonald's, I came back just as the last couple of undergraduate colleges were being called.

Perfect. I had just enough time to walk around the grounds to photograph the entire scene before the conclusion of the ceremony.

And finally, at the conclusion of gradation, all of the graduates are led out through the Sallyport, which everyone has initially walked through when they first arrived at Rice. The tradition goes that students avoid walking through it again until they graduate. The Sallyport is basically a huge archway in the middle of Lovett Hall, the oldest building on campus.

I quickly rushed over to the other side of the Sallyport to catch everyone walking through, bursting with excitement.

This faculty member was my favorite. It's interesting to see all of the faculty's different regalia they wear to represent the school where they received their PhD. This guy had a pointy, military-esque style hat that was unlike anything I saw!

It was such a fun morning, and I was really happy to experience graduation before Matt goes through it next year (hopefully). I'm sure the next one will be even better.

To all those I know who graduated yesterday, congratulations!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Stunning pictures as always. Makes me think that the next 2 years cannot go by fast enough...