Thursday, December 17, 2009

Still Gets to Me

TW has commented, correctly, that part of the reason I'm suited to academic administration is that I'm prone to repressing emotions. Although that can be frustrating in private life, it can work well in difficult meetings.

But some occasions manage to break through the repression, even when I know what's coming.

Although the main campus graduation ceremony occurs in late May, some of the specialized programs have December ceremonies. And since they're small, some of them allow the students to give little statements thanking people.

For the record, I consider this a remarkably civilized practice, and I'd love to see it generalized. Students' families make real sacrifices to get them through, and some public expressions of gratitude seem only fair. But one kind always makes me a little weepy: when parents thank their children for stepping up while Mom or Dad was too consumed with schoolwork.

Sometimes it takes a village to raise a parent.

When I can, I try to pick out the family in the audience. It isn't usually hard. They're usually the ones with searchlight-strength smiles and multiple cameras. The kids beam most of all.

I've seen it I-don't-know-how-many-times now, and it still gets me every time. I just can't imagine trying to be a parent and a student - especially in a demanding program -- at the same time. But people do it, and they do it with class and humility. The kids endure, and grow, and forgive, and burst with pride.

As a parent, it's hard to see that and remain unmoved.

Well done, people. Well done.