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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Commencement 2010

Day 2

At 7 AM, Dad called me up to make sure I got up, even before my alarm set off. It is good to know that you can always count on some people. I buried my face in the pillow, trying to pull myself up, lying to my body clock about the confusion. A cold shower woke me completely and I dabbed some sunscreen on my face and other exposed areas, worked on my eyes with a liner and spread some light gloss on my lips.

I wore a brown, cotton, tube dress and black leggings, but I forgot the shoes. I had to come back for the brown pumps and toss the flip flops just in time to reach the ice rink at 8 AM. I met some graduate students already dressed in robes, but since I had the wrong one, I kept it neatly in the packet. Once I changed the hood from blue (College of Education) to brown (College of Management), I wore it inside the restroom. Every other girl was fussing or was getting fussed about with the cap and gown. I walked into the denoted area and met some former classmates and professors.
I was beginning to feel it in first person already. I was glad I had come over. It was worth it - every bit of it. We greeted each other and queued up behind the flag bearers of CM. The university took care to provide fresh water bottles to the students, and I felt it was very important not to get dehydrated. Last year, I had attended the graduation of a friend and it had rained. I was hoping it wouldn’t during the main ceremony as it took place in the open lawn, by the sea. But it was very warm and the hot sun dried up the insides of us. We kept taking as many pictures as we could.

Chancellor Motley introduced the commencement speaker- Victoria Reggie Kennedy, wife of late Senator Ted Kennedy. She is an attorney and the cofounder and trustee of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate at UMB. She delivered the principal address to 3,366 graduates at the University of Massachusetts Boston's 42nd commencement ceremony, near the site where the institute will break ground this fall.

The John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum is right across the campus. The public wake of Edward Kennedy had taken place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, August 28, 2009 at the library's Smith Center, a maple-paneled room with a striking view of the Boston skyline. I remember watching the live broadcast of the eulogy delivered by President Obama on Saturday at The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston's Mission Hill section, while working out at the HP fitness center.

Senator John McCain shared his thoughts on his late colleague. I particularly remember the incident he recalled about two freshmen Senators getting personal over a political debate. The heat of the argument attracted the attention of senior members like Ted and John. ‘ A fight not joined was a fight not enjoyed’ had me in splits. It was enlightening to see politicians gathering at the funeral by putting aside their ideological differences. I recognized Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts, who had delivered the inaugural speech at Commencement 2009, UMB and 'Governator' Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, where I was planning to head soon.

Chancellor Motley acknowledged the contribution of the Kennedys to UMB, and Victoria insisted that the institute was not going to be a shrine to Ted or to the senate, but a seat of learning, a living, breathing, constantly growing and evolving center.


The 2010 John F. Kennedy Award for Academic Excellence recipient, the university’s highest honor for an undergraduate, was Thao Do, a Vietnamese immigrant whose goal is to devote her life to fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The content of her speech drove me to tears as I envisioned her struggle and the scope education offered to many like her. ‘My name can be mispronounced but as people call my name, they have to acknowledge and accept me as who I am’ struck a chord.

2 comments:

Surya Kannan said...

The experience of freedom in learning is priceless!

murthy_thehandsome(?) said...

hey nice yaar... it has brought some of my memories of my coll back.. :)