You stand on stage peering out towards the crowd to see if your family has the camera ready. Your heart is beating to the point that you swear it may leap out of your chest. The person in front of you is almost through shaking the chancellor’s hand and flashing a bedazzling smile at the cameras. You hope beyond hope that you don’t trip on stage and look down at your feet to make sure your gown isn’t in the way. Then your name is called—
This, my fellow comrades, is what a York U convocation ceremony is like, at least from my perspective.
I’ve mentioned before that I am an English graduate, so this means that I can talk to you and explain from an experienced and personal level what convocation is like. I thought it would be useful to start our academic adventures from the very end point, and then talk about how to get there through other posts. What you ultimately aspire to do when pursuing a university degree is to graduate. Convocation is a part of that goal and a heart-filling experience that you should try not to miss.
I can basically sum up my convocation experience in one word: overwhelming.
I will honestly tell you that I didn’t plan on attending. I wanted to finish up with my York degree and move on. I wasn’t sure I wanted to sit in a crowd listening to speeches and clapping for the 100+ students that went up to shake the chancellor’s hand. At the last minute I changed my mind and I will tell you why.
- I knew my family wanted to see me walk across the stage and when I first entered into the Rexall Centre they were right there by the door, clapping and cheering my name.
- I worked hard to get my degree, I deserved to wear the gown and cap with pride.
- I didn’t want to miss out on the knowledge shared by the chancellor or any of the other speakers.
Am I glad that I ended up going? Yes.
When I rose from my seat to step on the stage I was a ball of nerves, but I felt empowered. I accomplished what I set out to do and now I was being recognized for it.
To some this event may seem like a lengthy distance away or maybe you haven’t even really thought about it yet, but it’s what waits for you at the end of your academic journey. It’s a profoundly fulfilling moment in your life. It signals the end of one adventure and the beginning of another. I encourage you to think about it because it drives you to go on in your studies.
At the same time, I want you to appreciate the new things that are being tossed your way while pursuing a degree or heading back to school as a mature or part-time student. I suggest that you think of your journey in the world of academia as a stroll. For some it may be a long promenade, for others a short trip; regardless of length, don’t forget to take time to enjoy it.
My final parting words to you would be that when it’s your turn to strut across that stage, take a moment to breathe it all in. Look into the crowd, search for familiar faces, look at the other students seated around you and exchange nervous chuckles. Think about why your name is being called when you hear it amplified over the microphone. You’re there because you entered the academic labyrinth and made it out.