Thursday, June 4, 2009

100% Doctored

Cornell's graduation was last week. It was a thrilling, fulfilling, wonderful day. My Dad just happened to be speaking in Philadelphia the week before and Syracuse the week after, so he and Mom flew out to spend the weekend with us.

Course, I've been a doctor for more than six months now. Three signatures = PhD, and that happened in November. It would have happened earlier, but that was the first day my entire committee was in town since May. So I was a doctor in November.

I was a bit more of a doctor in December when I was handed a piece of paper signifying that, yep, I had three signatures and could now claim my "rights and privileges" as a doctor.

I was a bit more of a doctor when the grad school confirmed things back in early January.The diploma arrived in March, that's another bit of doctorocity.

But putting on the cap and gown for the first time on Wednesday just after handing in a rough draft for the next project after the dissertation and taking pics with my adviser was extra special.

And the Sunday festivities Memorial Day weekend were the final capping. It's nice to get to celebrate the same event so many times. Given how long it took, I deserve it!

Christopher Colwatson,
setting sail on three papers
into the uncharted waters of
developmental economics research

But getting back to our story....

Mom, Joy, Dad, and Hy were in the stands to see me, even if they didn't until it was over. Hy, for the record, was remarkably calm and well-behaved throughout the commencement.

I'm somewhere on the right of that sea of red, on the fourth row, towards the right. I can't find me. I have a guess where I am, and there's someone straight in front of me. Joy managed to catch me in a couple videos, but I have to stop them at just the right second to show it to you.

(Here I am at my old building.)

I gathered with the other P.H.ony D.octors at 9am and we stood around chatting until 10 when the bells announced the beginning of the processing. I was very pleased with our bell ringer. We started out marching to Verdi's Triumphal March from Aida, and then strode to the glorious euphonia of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance.

I told Joy the only thing I really needed was a good solid hour of Pomp and Circumstance. By the time we got to the stadium, I discovered that the wind ensemble had other ideas. I have no idea what I marched into the stadium to. I felt a bit jypped. The Human Ecology undergrads (including those in my new dept.) came in to the March of the Jawas from Star Wars. What?? The engineers got Pomp and Circumstance. Bout time.

It turned out the coolest moment was at the beginning of the march. With Pomp and Circ. in the background, we passed rows of faculty members in their regalia cheering and applauding us as we made our way to the stadium. Though I didn't see anyone I recognized, seeing the genuine celebration in their eyes - particularly when they saw one of their own students - was a really welcoming embrace.

Of course, there's little that could top the moment when the degrees were conferred.


We PhDs were largely dignified in our celebrations. The Veterinary Medicine PhDs, who had their own seating, had all brought pink hand balloons that they waved. The master of ceremonies -- who did an excellent job, by the by -- instructed each group after their degrees were conferred, "Will the Masters and Doctors of the Universe please be seated." To the VMs he said, "Will the Veterinary Medicine PhD's please Sit DOWN." There was no anger in his voice, but the way he said it brought laughter throughout the stadium.

I was the only doctor near where I was sitting who could sing the Alma Mater thanks to the 4-5 years now that I've lead a quartet/quintet/trio in it at the LDSSA Opening Social. Both Joy and I did my longstanding joke of adding in a few 'bustle bustle bustle's after the line about "Far above the busy humming of the bustling town."

I climbed over the stadium railing once I found my family. We went home, had lunch, and sent everyone away to take naps while I ... did something. I forget what. It may have been church related. After naptime, Joy and I drove around town taking pictures of me in my robes before returning them. Someday I'll own my own set, but it shall not be this day. We ate corned beef and cabbage for dinner, and went out Saturday and Monday for steaks (Lucatelli's) or chicken and pork with sweet potatoes (Boatyard, most excellent!).

I felt loved. I felt appreciated. I felt sunburnt.

I felt truly grateful for the many wonderful fellow students and teachers who have helped bring me along to this wonderful day.

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