Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Graduation day ... it's a beautiful thing

      It is a rite of spring, a sea of purple in the nearby neighborhood on the second Saturday each May.
      Spring graduation at TCU is a beautiful day, a wonderful weekend. Doesn't matter that the roads -- University Drive and its arteries -- are clogged for hours, the eating establishments, motels and shopping centers are busy.
      I love graduations everywhere, but I'm writing about TCU because it's right here. I have no vested interest in the university, no sentimental ties, no Frog ties, hardly know anyone there, and attend only a couple of events on campus in a year. But I do cross the campus on my walks several times a week, and I admire how progressive -- and aggressive -- the powers-that-be have been in construction or renovation of the buildings on campus.
      My guess is that more than half of TCU's structures are new since we moved into the area eight years ago.
      And I do find graduation day inspiring. I find hope for our future, for the graduates' future.
      I do like the pomp, but not the circumstance. I don't want to attend the ceremony -- too long, too tedious and too crowded -- but it's neat to see the graduates in their purple gowns (with caps in hand) walking on campus and I love all the picture taking (usually with TCU landmarks in the background).
A beautiful graduation scene at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium
(Facebook photo courtesy of the Rebouche family from Shreveport) 
      It so happened this past Saturday that -- with a noon meeting appointment -- I had to be out early for my walk and even before 8 a.m., the prospective graduates already were all over the place. When I came back by an hour later, traffic was beginning to stack up.
       We're accustomed to the traffic jams; happens for any TCU home football game, the Armed Forces bowl game, the PGA tournament at Colonial Country Club -- next week -- and we live about 100 yards from the fourth green, the many high-school graduations at TCU, and those spring-break days when half this area's residents come to visit the Fort Worth Zoo about 300 yards from our apartments.
      Hey, it's all good. It all pumps up the local economy.
      But I like TCU spring graduation day best of all.
      I've been known to stop and randomly congratulate some and their family members, ask about their plans, and on occasion offer to take a family photo. Just doing a public service.
      I appreciate the hard work the seniors have put in for four or five years and the price they've paid. And when you're talking about TCU -- a private school where tuition is hefty -- you know they've literally paid quite a price.
      This was a special graduation at TCU because it was an outdoor ceremony. In past years, the ceremony has been inside in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, but because it is being renovated (long overdue), the scene this year was the almost brand-new Amon G. Carter Stadium.
      Fortunately, it was a beautiful sunny day. Could've been quite a mess otherwise (TCU officials did have contingency plans for an inside-the-stadium club ceremony).
      Every year I get choked up because I know it's such a happy, proud day for most everyone there, and because I can think back on how it felt personally 4 1/2 decades ago (oh, wow)  and how it felt when our kids graduated -- Jason from LSU in 1997 and Rachel from University of Tennessee in 2002.
       Honestly, I don't remember much about my graduation from Louisiana Tech, except that I was happy to be there and pretty worn down after having run the sports information office for three months (including media needs for the spring conference championships).
       Plus -- and I'm not hesitant to admit this -- I was tired of classes and tests after 16 years of school. I was a good student at times, but not an avid one and not a disciplined one. But I vowed then that I would never go back to school ... and so far I've stuck to that.
        (Conversely, Beatrice was a diligent, conscientious student when she took college courses after we were married, and so was Rachel.)
       I had to miss Jason's graduation because I was working in Knoxville at the time and Rachel was still in high school, a couple of weeks from graduation. But Bea made it to Baton Rouge and so did my parents, so we were well-represented.
        We had moved to Fort Worth by the time Rachel graduated from Tennessee, and we were delighted to return for that day. And we got two bonus graduation ceremonies: (1) My mother's honorary doctorate (of Humane Letters) from Centenary College in 2002 and (2) Rachel's master's degree from Tennessee in 2011.
         The memories of those special days is what comes to mind when I see the purple caps and gowns at TCU. It is, as the headline says, a beautiful thing, a happy day. Congratulations to the graduates here, and everywhere. Go out and make it a better world.


  1. From Jimmy Russell: Good piece. Made me think of my graduation from LSU. Warren Rabb, who had come back to get his degree, was by me in the graduation line. We had several classes together.That day it was the ultimate. When I started school, I thought the day would never come. Then one begins to see light at the end of the tunnel and hope, and then it happens. You feel good. Of course, life and its lessons are waiting for you. It does bring back memories. There are some things in my earlier life that I think about every day.

  2. From Rick Ray: Next spring I will be one of those parents (at TCU).