Monday, May 16, 2011

BA down, MA to go

kw: local events, passages

Just when it ought to be over, it isn't, quite. We've known our son was planning on graduate school for some time, now, but it hit home: Sunday was his graduation day, and the day he became officially a graduate, and a graduate student. What a day it turned out to be!

The Rutgers web site promised plenty of parking and seating for its first combined commencement ceremony in many years, to be held in the stadium. To our observation, there actually was plenty of seating, both for the 7,500 or so graduates who actually attended (of 12,000 eligible), and for the crowd, which filled the 20,000 seat stadium about 90%. But the parking situation was another matter.

We had been advised on one web page to park in one of the stadium lots, then drive to any departmental special event after the commencement. At another, it recommended parking near the last event we planned to attend. We initially decided on the former strategy. We live 90 minutes from the stadium, so we left at 7:30 AM for the 10:00 event, figuring we had sufficient time. Not so: We got onto Hwy 18 in New Brunswick just before 9:00, and hit a traffic jam with several miles to go. I foolishly bypassed the chance to exit at Hwy 27, and it took forty minutes to get to the next opportunity, which required jumping a median.

At that point, we switched strategies and drove into New Brunswick to park near the location where the Humanities Department would hold their afternoon convocation. This is the event at which our son would actually cross the stage (The morning event was mainly the keynote speech by author and professor (emeritus) Toni Morrison, plus the mass conferring of degrees). We caught a shuttle bus from the Student Center, which took us to the stadium. We were "only" half an hour late, and missed most of the student processional.

A memorable passage from the keynote address: "A century from now, or two or three, people may say, 'Was it really true that you had to go into debt, and work two or three jobs to pay it off, to obtain the education which is the wealth of your society?'"

After the keynote address, I texted our son, recommending that he walk or take a shuttle back to New Brunswick (only a mile), leaving his car where it was. He agreed. We returned by shuttle, and during the reception time before the afternoon convocation for the Humanities Department, got to see him briefly. The convocation went well; there were only about 400 students this time. However, photo opportunities were limited. Just as he was about to cross the stage, a row of students stood up and blocked our view. I held my camera above the crowd and shot wildly, and missed him entirely. I did get a photo of him when he obligingly came over where I could see him and posed with his diploma cover. Whew!

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with moving his possessions to a different house. What with making connection to the owner, and all the loading and unloading, it took us up till dinner time. We took him out to eat, returned him to his new home, and returned to our own home by about 10:00 pm. Now we have a preview of this time, next year, when he expects to get his Master's degree. At least we know to avoid Hwy 18 next time around!

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