Every year at this time is bittersweet. It’s graduation season, and as college instructors, we work to see our students graduate, leave us, and move on to bigger and better things. We enjoy seeing that new world opening up for them, but I, at least, am also always a bit sad to see those bright shiny faces leave us.
In part, some of that sadness simply comes from the inevitable fact that I will lose contact with students with whom I have developed a bond. Granted with the internet, I can keep in touch with many of them, and I do, but the bond changes as well. Of course, that is not a bad thing, but it’s still a bit sad. I can only imagine how it feels for parents who are watching their children end one phase of life to begin another, but I would guess most instructors have an inkling of that feeling.
We had one of our graduation ceremonies last night, and it was full of such endings and beginnings. However, we had two students for whom their would be no earthly beginnings. We handed out two posthumous degrees. I mention this because it made the bittersweetness of such a time even more so. I had the pleasure and privilege of teaching both of these remarkable women. Hearing their names made me weepy, but then, again, I was already prone to being weepy by the nature of the occasion. Naming these two women was appropriate–both would have been honor graduates. For me, it made the evening more poignant as it made clear just how starkly the endings and beginnings can be.
But, it was not a sad occasion, and graduations should be bittersweet. They are a time of transition for all involved, as they should be. Ultimately, graduations mark change and growth and life, and that is what it’s all about. So congratulations to all of our graduates, and to all who are graduating at this time of year. May your next steps on the journey take you to many wonderful places.