Friday, May 20, 2016

Graduation at NYU

My place of work (and one of my almae matres), NYU, is not a school renowned for being traditional. Being in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, we're not doing any hooprolling and we don't even have a football team. Although I delight in such traditions, I always seem to find myself in schools where that sort of thing is just not the norm.

Luckily, the few traditions NYU does hold are really excellent. Two of them happened this week, and I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer at both! First up was Grad Alley, a giant street festival for graduates and their families. There are giveaways, shows, and my station: the NYU photobooth. I think by now you know how much I love taking snaps, so being the designated NYU photobooth photographer for the evening was a blast. I hope some of the pictures turned out well, because I know those families waited in line for quite a while!

The highlight of my week was absolutely running into one of my former students, Daniel, at the photobooth. All of my students were stars, but Daniel is one of the few who has kept in touch with me, so seeing him on the eve of his graduation after meeting him as a freshman was sort of perfect. I was so excited for him that I almost cried, and I honestly am not a person who cries very much. But graduation is one of those things that makes me really emotional: my own was so beautiful and so hard and in that moment, life seemed more sparkling and full of possibility than it ever had before or has since.

I imagine that's what a lot of people were feeling the very next day, at NYU's commencement ceremony in Yankee Stadium. Leading up to it, there was already a good amount of emotion, because we knew it would be the last graduation for one of my coworkers who has been instrumental in planning it for 20 years. And the day of the ceremony was perfect: blue skies and sea of purple robes.

She wasn't at either of these events, but my best friend from college also graduated this week. Seeing her finish two programs at once with an infant was incredible. She's been a model of fortitude for me for 12 years, and I'm so proud to call her my friend. It was a great day, and I feel so honored to have been able to celebrate all the efforts and work of the students here. It's so inspiring to be surrounded by so many excellent people every day.

Congratulations, graduates, especially Daniel and my other creative writing freshman, and Sarah! Good luck in all you pursue next!

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