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Convocation commiseration

28 Mar

My niece, who has worked hard for the last four years, was told this week that there wold be no convocation to mark the attainment of her B.A. My sister and I texted for a bit about this sad situation and reflected a bit on ours.

I didn’t attend the ceremony for my Master’s degree from Portland State.  I am certain I attended the one for my Teaching degree from Brock University. I have some vague memories of a Spring day and my parents on campus. I do, however, remember the day I was awarded my B.A.


It was a beautiful day in June. I don’t remember the drive into Toronto with my parents. I have some memories of hordes of  Vic grads crowding  for our gowns. There might even have been a walk across campus to Convocation Hall.



It’s funny the things I remember and the things I don’t.

I remember that, before the ceremony, as we were putting our gowns on,  we had received a card that had our name and degree on it. As we mounted the stage, we were to hand it to the MC, who announced us.

I remember being surprised when they told us that, the rolled diploma we would be handed on stage was, on fact, just a blank piece of paper. Once we exited the stage, we traded the fake diploma for the real thing. When my turn came, everything went off without a hitch.

After exiting the backstage area, we were sent up to the balcony to finish watching the rest of the ceremony. Moira Gill, who I knew from Margaret Addison Hall where I lived for my first two years, sat to my right. A young man I didn’t know sat to my left.

We were way up in the gods. Much whispering and peering at diplomas was going on as some unknown person gave the convocation address. These were the days before celebrity speakers. The young man to my left looked glum.

“I didn’t get mine,” he told us, blushing and chuckling nervously. We were all incredulous.

“Apparently, I have a library fine,” he confessed, clearly embarrassed.

We all sympathized and commiserated with the young man, while secretly harboring relief that we hadn’t suffered the same fate.

When the ceremony ended, I found my parents. Did we go out for dinner or just go straight home. I don’t really remember. I have always wondered if that young man took his family to the library to take care of his fine.


P.S. I’m in the fourth row, fifth from the left

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