Sunday, January 26, 2014


I'm so glad I went through with graduation. It was so exciting to be surrounded by other graduates and have a few moments to really savor the accomplishment of earning my MA, all to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, all inside the sumptuous City Hall. As I walked down the main staircase aisle to the stage, I could not help but smile because I was reminded of my girls' KG2 graduations. It was a strange thought to have at a big moment, but also very fitting, in a way.

I didn't go into detail in my previous post about the arrangements I was making to leave early, because the very fact that I wanted to do so was presenting a security concern (the Sheikh attends the ceremony). But now that it's over, here's how it was supposed to go: I was granted a special dispensation by the organizers to show up not as early as they were asking the graduates to be present (thus nursing Sterling at the last possible moment), walk/receive the diploma/handshake from the Sheikh, and then continue walking right off the stage into the wings, where a door would be open for me to make my way to the lobby and outside. At the graduation rehearsal, we went through the proposed procedure and made sure all the security people knew who I was and that I would be leaving early, and that I was allowed to.

What actually happened was this: I received my diploma and handshake from the Sheikh, and then I headed toward my secret escape door...and it was locked. LOCKED! I stood there in shock for a few moments and then knocked on the door to see if anyone was on the other side. No answer. I looked back the way I came to see if there was another route, but it would have involved walking back across the stage, which obviously wasn't happening.

So I picked my way through the pitch black of backstage, stepping on all kinds of prop detritus and feeling my way behind the structure of the risers holding the seated graduates. I was hoping and praying that there was another way to get out on the other side, and also that there were no hidden security agents back there who would be alarmed by my presence.

I got lucky on both counts. I emerged on the other side of backstage, surprising the people stationed there. One of them asked if I needed to use the toilet, but just then another one recognized me and ushered me out to the lobby. Phew!

Jeremy and Sterling were waiting for me there, having watched me graduate on a TV screen hanging on the wall. It had been long enough that he was just getting fussy for his next meal (Sterling, not Jeremy, ha ha). I was so grateful that I had been able to arrange an early exit, and also that said early exit had been executed successfully.

The other unexpected thing at graduation was that I was announced as having received an MA in Architecture. It was some mix-up with the reader. No big deal.

I had my parents take photos of me in my graduation gown the day before the ceremony, to avoid the huge crowds that would be on campus and at City Hall. I thought it would be less hectic that way. It probably was, though it was still plenty hectic. The security guard kept harassing us to move the car. Sterling was fussy. And I could not for the LIFE of me figure out how to put the stupid MA hood on. Maybe I don't deserve the degree after all. My dad suggested just taking the photos without the hood on, to which I may have responded, in a fit of pique, "I don't want to look like I just got a BA! I got an MA! That's the whole point!"

At the last moment, my mom and I figured out how to attach the hood, but the security guard was still on our case. So Jeremy moved the car and then hobbled back to us (he ran a marathon that morning), and we got some pictures taken. It was a big ol' hassle. Just a hassle before the fact, that's all.

Happy Graduation!


Crys said...

Great story! I love all this extra security and no one notices you climbing behind the stage :). Congrats on your accomplishment!

Susanne said...

Congrats! Great pictures!

Liz Johnson said...

YOU DID IT! YOU DID IT!! I'm so happy for you! I love all that ritualistic pomp and circumstance stuff. Chris' graduation at Notre Dame was RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME - combine Catholic love for ritual with graduation... it was amazing. There literally was a guy with a scepter commanding the stadium doors to open like some sort of wizard. Anyways. So glad you went!

Alanna said...

Congratulations!!! I feel like the exact same thing happened to me with my hood-- it was super difficult to figure out how to put the darn thing on, but it was SO IMPORTANT to me! The whole time I was writing my thesis I just kept reminding myself how much I wanted that hood!!!

Lisa Lou said...

This makes me regret just a tiny bit that I would have attended my graduate ceremony. If only for the hood.

Kathy Haynie said...

Hooray! So glad it worked out so well. The pictures are a treasure - worth the hassle - a wonderful piece of your life story to share with your children and grandchildren. If you're a teacher and you help with graduation you get to wear the hood again! I wear it every June at the high school graduation. Sometimes it matches my university & degree and sometimes not. Kind of like you getting a MA in architecture, I guess. Congratulations on everything!!

AmandaStretch said...

Congratulations! The hood is definitely trick, but so worth it! I wasn't going to walk for my last Masters graduation because I didn't expect my family to join me for this one, but the Christmas before I graduated I acquired a husband who wanted to see me graduate, so I did and I'm glad!

Jeremy Palmer said...

I'm so proud of Bridget! She did an amazing job with her many responsibilities. Sterling and I watched as she sat behind the Sheikh and then as she collected her diploma. Well done!

Sarah Familia said...

Congratulations, Bridget! I'm glad it worked out in the end. And those are some gorgeous photos.

Jen said...

CONGRATULATIONS! I'm so happy for you! (And academic regalia is one of my top ten favorite things on earth. For reals.)

Ignorant question: The Sheikh shakes hands with women?

Bridget said...

Not ignorant at all! Yes, the Sheikh shakes hands with women. Some of the female graduates did not shake hands with him, however.


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