“Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-raising, they are unemployed.” (Erma Bombeck)
This past Sunday, I attended my first Ohio State graduation ceremony as Dean and Director of the OSU Mansfield campus. Participation in commencement activities is a strong reminder of the main reason for our institution‟s existence: the students. And there were students aplenty, as a total of 2,120 individuals received Bachelor‟s, Master‟s, or Doctoral degrees that day.
There also were many, many family members and friends in attendance. The Shottenstein Center contains around 20,000 seats, and most all of them were filled. President Gee acknowledged their presence in his remarks, asking those who had supported these students throughout their educational pursuits to stand up and receive a round of applause. As you might expect, as a family research scientist I too was very tuned into their presence, and I took the time to soak in the looks of deep satisfaction on the faces of these mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other extended kin.
This also was a time of remembrance for me, as I had sat in this very arena for my two oldest sons' high school graduations. It was amazing to me that so much time had passed so quickly. Almost five years ago I had watched my oldest son get his high school diploma, and what seems like only a blink of an eye later he had received his OSU diploma last year in the 'Shoe. I believe that I saw the dawning recognition of that kind of reality on many family members' faces as well last Sunday. There may not be a better example to be found of what it means to have a “bittersweet” experience.
Spring Break is almost over, and a new quarter is about to begin (perhaps its own bittersweet experience for many of you right now). If you got any time off, count your blessings, and come back renewed and reinvigorated. And for those of us who did not get a longer break, please take the time to enjoy the weekend with family and friends!