Let#039;s go to a graduation ceremony

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2003

Graduation is a time for celebrating one's achievement.

The ceremony, with all its tradition, is a moment that one can triumph, look to the heavens and raise their arms in victory.

Then, there's those who attend the ceremony.

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Sunday, I filed into a rather large convention center in the Chicago suburbs to attend the graduation of my sister, Dana. She was getting her master's degree and it was a special time for all of us.

Of course, when going to events like these, you can't help but notice the people.

There were hats. Lots of them, worn mostly by ladies. Hats of all shapes and sizes. Heck, people of all shapes and sizes were there, too.

Once everyone settled into their seats, I knew it wouldn't take long for the inevitable to happen.

I leaned over to my mom.

"I'll bet by the time this service is done, a cell phone will go off. Twice."

I was wrong. The final count was at least 13.

Like clockwork, the first one went off just as the college president started telling all the graduates what a great milestone they achieved.

The second came, again, during the president's speech, which by that time was as interesting as a student giving a dissertation on how to properly unclog a toilet.

About an hour and 15 minutes into the graduation (it was at a state university, so this was no in-and-out deal), dad and I decided to get up. Dana already walked across and got her diploma, but we had to behave and wait for the rest of the ceremony to end.

Since a handful of folks exited immediately, we got the car from the back of the lot and parked near the entrance. By the number of people milling in the hallway and smoking outside, we could see they were equally looking forward to the president's final words.

We eventually made it back inside. More phone calls.

Then, a phone went off … right next to me.

"Oh … you called just in time. Kenyatta's about to … wait … she's about ready to …

"Ken-YAH-ta. Oh YEAH! Go Kenyatta!"

In a short 10-second span, I endured enough yelling in my left ear to make sure I would not name my firstborn Kenyatta.

So Kenyatta's friend and whomever else decided to talk for another three minutes. Yes, during the ceremony.

About 45 minutes later, the ceremony finally ended, but not before the president gave another 15-minute speech, urging the graduates to make the most of their lives, do the best they can and not jaywalk.

Afterward, the graduates mingled with family, friends and their various professors, including the obligatory one who proceeded to kiss every female graduate, not concerned at all about the abundance of hair coming out of his ears.

Looking back, I still wouldn't have missed such a special occasion that we were able to share as a family. Smiles and hugs were in abundance.

And all the different hats didn't look as appealing at the end. Dana's graduation cap stood out and it was one she wore with pride. I knew she wasn't going to let anything get in the way of her getting that diploma.

Including 13 phone calls.

Dan Fields can be reached at 434-2230 or by e-mail at :mailto:dan.fields@austindailyherald.com