Monday, May 14, 2007

College Graduation: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We were out of town this past weekend attending our son’s graduation from college.


We were proud parents this weekend as we watched ds22 graduate from college. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Theological Languages and Pre-Seminary Studies. The night before graduation, we attended a gathering where he received a leadership award for his work as president of Campus Ministry. Take that, all you homeschool skeptics who think homeschooled kids grow up to become adults who can’t work with others! ;)

Our son’s graduation ceremony was held in the afternoon, and was preceded by a beautiful morning worship service in the university’s chapel. There, the graduating education majors received their commissions. Our future daughter-in-law was one of them. She also graduated Magna Cum Laude; she is a lifelong product of Lutheran schools. Take that, all you public school cheerleaders out there! ;)

Just before we left to go out of state for the graduation, we received a graduation announcement in the mail from a homeschooled friend in Kentucky. She was to graduate the same day as our son, and she was being awarded a degree in Biology, with Minors in Chemistry and Agriculture, and achieved the distinction of graduating Summa Cum Laude. She is the second child in her family to graduate from college; all were homeschooled from birth, as our kids were. Take that, all you homeschool skeptics who think homeschooled kids don’t learn as much as kids in public schools! ;)


As beautiful as the worship service was, the graduation ceremony was disappointing. We learned very little about the Class of 2007, but we did sit through the presentation of several honorary degrees. One person even received an honorary Doctor of Law degree, which is especially interesting considering the university does not have a school of law. But I suppose that’s just semantics. The gist of the introductions that accompanied the presentation of the honorary degrees was that these people are important because they have made lots of money and are well-known in their communities. In several cases, they had also given money to the university. There you go.

The keynote speech was given by Doris Christopher, founder of The Pampered Chef. Mrs. Christopher and her husband have given lots of money to universities, including the funding of a massive new library at Valparaiso University in Indiana. But her speech was pretty thin stuff, beginning and ending with the message “Figure out what you like to do, and use your God-given talents.” The middle of the speech was basically an infomercial for The Pampered Chef, and it repeated the sales pitch for that company (sometimes verbatim) that we heard when Mrs. Christopher was introduced.

How much more interesting her speech would have been had she chosen to elaborate on the fact that she was a stay-at-home mom looking for a flexible job opportunity when she began The Pampered Chef in her basement in 1980. At that time, the phrase “flexible work schedule” was an oxymoron, and the idea of a woman starting what would become a multi-million dollar company was pretty hard to imagine. If she had elaborated on going against the tide and becoming an entrepreneur, she would have given a much more valuable message to a group of young people headed into a turbulent global economy.


This was the first graduation ceremony I’ve attended since the early 1980s, which might explain my shock at the behavior of so-called adults in the audience. Throughout the entire program (which was over two hours long), people milled up and down the aisles, handing their kids flowers and calling out to them to smile as they took photos---while the graduates were seated and the speakers were at the podium!

Once the graduates began lining up to ascend the stage and accept their diplomas, things got worse. Crowds of eager parents with cameras blocked the aisles and got in the way of the grads as they filed up row by row. Parents screamed their kids’ names as they were announced. One idiot set off an air horn; had I been next to him, he’d be wearing it right now.

By the way, university officials announced prohibitions against all these behaviors in a letter to the parents ahead of time, and again at the beginning of the ceremony. I’m guessing some of these parents can’t read, and the rest are just morons. Whatever happened to decorum?

No comments: