Currently viewing the tag: "Commencement"

One positive by-product of our cool spring (others call it a long winter) is the flowering trees that in other years would have been at their peak in April, but are still in full bloom this week.  The campus is always lovely for Commencement weekend, but it seems particularly beautiful this year.  No matter where graduates and family find themselves, they will be able to enjoy flowering trees, along with Commencement tents.

The lawn beside the President’s House:

President's Lawn

The courtyard in front of Blakeley Hall (the Fletcher dormitory), where graduating students will gather before starting their Commencement procession:

Blakeley tent

And Fletcher Field (behind the tennis courts), where graduates will receive their diplomas, after listening to speeches by Dean Stavridis and two of their peers, Amy Tan and Bob Lynch:

Fletcher field

I took the photos this morning, before the skies had cleared and the sun came out.  Whether nature brings us sun or clouds, we can count on Commencement being a beautiful day.

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Tents remain in place around campus, but Fletcher and the rest of Tufts have the yearly post-Commencement underpopulated look.  By all accounts, Sunday’s ceremony was lovely, and the weather kindly cooperated — sunny all morning, but not too hot.  The main Tufts website has photos and a short video to give you a sense of how everything looked.

Commencement, Fletcher grads

Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend Sunday’s ceremony (more on that later this week), but I was at Saturday’s Class Day event where a wonderful alumni address was given by Paulo Bilyk F’92.  Awards were then distributed, following which we heard from Dean Bosworth, who shared tales from his long career as a diplomat.  Dean Bosworth was also honored on Sunday, when he was named Dean Emeritus of the School.  Earlier in the day, Fletcher students cheered him when he conferred their degrees at the All-University phase of Commencement.

Commencement, Dean Bosworth

I ran into a few students this morning, but I think it’s fair to say that they have mostly moved on.  When the tents come down this week, even Commencement, never mind the spring semester, will seem like a distant memory.  Good luck and best wishes, Class of 2013!

(Thank you to University photographers, Kevin Ma and Emily Zilm, whose photos I borrowed.)

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Never mind the University’s offer of health insurance, retirement funds, or access to the Tufts gym, the most rewarding benefit of working at Fletcher is the opportunity to get to know our fantastic students.  Unlike access to the gym, it is a benefit that I take advantage of every day.  And that’s why the joy that students feel at their own graduation is mixed with a little sadness for me and other members of the Fletcher faculty and staff.  It isn’t that we’ll never hear from these people again — in fact, there are some beloved members of the class of 2008 due back for this weekend’s reunion — but the nature of our contact inevitably changes.

Every year, I try to recognize those students who have regularly brightened my day.  There’s no way to cover the entire list — this is a blog, not an encyclopedic resource — but I’ll single out a few groups, not that thanking them is a substitute for seeing them regularly.

For starters, there are the stalwart Admissions Interns who do the widest possible array of substantive and trivial tasks for us, always with good cheer.  Farewell and good luck to Katie and (Dear) Ariel!  Then there are the students who are selected to serve on the Admissions Committee.  Thank you to this year’s rock star team of Lily, Bernardo, Felix, Margot, and Hillary (who did double duty as an Admissions Intern, starting her work with us before classes began two years ago).  Thanks, too, to Elspeth, a Januarian who did her Admissions Committee service a year ago, but also spent some time with us this spring, turning data messes into beautiful reports.  And more thanks to Violet, Juan Sebastian, and Heidi, who participated on the MIB Admissions Committee either this year or last.  Finally, thanks and good luck to our wonderful, generous, and dedicated volunteer interviewers.

And, of course, there are dozens of others.  There’s Patrick, whom I’ve known seemingly forever.  And Maliheh whom I’ve so enjoyed working with on the blog.  And PhD students including Erik, Courtney, and Ethan, all of whom have also supported the work of the Admissions Office.  From here, it becomes difficult to isolate individuals, but thanks to the many people whose minute of conversation is well worth stopping for as we cross the Hall of Flags.  Or students whose applications I promoted in Admissions Committee meetings, but who don’t know that, and also don’t know that I watch their progress through Fletcher to be sure they were a good bet.  Or students who pepper the Social List with interesting (or “interesting”) bits of news, analysis, information, or humor, keeping us informed about students’ interests and concerns.

Naturally, I hope that all of these students and all their classmates enjoy their Commencement weekend and bask in the pride of friends and family.  But don’t forget us after you leave Fletcher!  Send a note once in a while.  Connect with us via your preferred social medium.  Most important:  Do great things in your work and community that we hear about in the years to come.  We’ll miss you, but we wish you all the best!

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For Fletcher students, the graduation ceremony is merely the (almost) final event in a weekend of togetherness.  With the soon-to-be graduates only barely recovered from dawn to post-dusk Dis-Orientation activities, Commencement weekend kicks off on Friday (i.e. tomorrow) with breakfast and a graduation rehearsal at 8:00 a.m.  The afternoon is unprogrammed (time to take visiting family around town for some sightseeing), but many will meet up again at 6:00 p.m. for a New England clambake, which is also the kick-off event for the Fletcher alumni reunion that runs in parallel this weekend.

CommencementFletcher decided years ago to keep the focus on students during Sunday’s graduation ceremony, and a Class Day event was created on the Saturday of Commencement weekend for speeches, presentation of prizes, etc.  The speaker for this year’s Class Day program will be our own Dean Stephen Bosworth, who is stepping down after more than a decade as dean.  I’m sure it will be a bittersweet moment.  Lunch will follow.

And then, finally, Sunday arrives.  Students will kick off the day with a champagne breakfast, featuring toasts by the students selected by a vote of their peers.  Champagne imbibed, students head off to the all-University ceremony (where Fletcher students are well known for their extra loud cheers when their degrees are awarded as a group), followed by the Fletcher ceremony, where each graduating student is handed a diploma by the dean (photos will be taken — smile!).  Speeches will be delivered by peer-selected students and the recipient of the Paddock Prize for excellence in teaching, which went this year to Carolyn Gideon.

When the ceremony concludes, everyone works their way over to lunch via many hugs and well-wishes.  All in all, a lovely event.

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It’s a transitional week — no longer the spring semester, but not yet the summer break.  Students are either gone (off to interesting internships) or invisible.  Among the invisible, many are participating in the Fletcher tradition known as Dis-Orientation.  A fitting balance to the Orientation program that starts each academic year, Dis-Orientation is less preparatory and more celebratory.  Here’s part of the Dis-O line-up, each event coordinated by a different student or team of students:

  • Tours:  Boston Duck Tour, Freedom Trail Tour
  • Downtown outings, including a picnic in the Boston Public Garden, and a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts
  • Parties, including a “Stoplight Party” (a party of multiple parties at the Fletcher-student-occupied Green House, Yellow House, and Red House)
  • Movies, including (appropriately) The Graduate
  • Sports, including a Red Sox Game against the Minnesota Twins
  • Exercise, including a bike trip
  • Farther-flung outings, including an amusement park
  • And many activities ending with -ing:  whale watching, clubbing, poker playing, storytelling (organized by our own student blogger, Roxanne), trampolining, and pub crawling.

The week wraps up with a class photo on Friday, after which graduating students will turn their attention to the weekend’s Commencement activities.  More on that tomorrow.

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While I get a grip on some catch-up work that needs to be done today, I’ll point you toward this nice Commencement wrap-up, which includes the texts of the speeches given by graduating students Bilal Baloch and Sebastián Molano, as well as that of Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who gave the Class Day keynote address.

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I took yesterday off to bask in the joy of our family’s weekend.  (Also to scrub the kitchen floor and otherwise clean up from our graduation party on Sunday night.)  But though I might be a day late, I wanted to point you to the stories and photos on the Tufts Commencement page.  Photo 15 shows the Fletcher crowd, as ever the most jubilant (read:  noisy) group of graduates.  We all could not have asked for a more beautiful day to celebrate.  A gift from Mother Nature for a great group of students.

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I have a very special (and complicated) weekend in front of me.  As I’ve been noting through the week, University Commencement takes place on Sunday, with related events on Saturday and tonight.  I’m going to turn up on Saturday for Fletcher’s Class Day.  I’ll wish the students well and, if I’m lucky, I’ll meet some family members.  On Sunday, I’ll be joining them for the All-University portion of graduation, but my role there will be as Mother of a Jumbo.  My son, Josh, is graduating from Tufts this year.

So my mum-in-law arrived from London last night, and a few of my cousins will also be joining us to celebrate.  And that would make for a busy and fun weekend.  But complicating (and enhancing) the schedule is that Kayla will be attending her high school prom on Saturday night.

For those of you not familiar with the prom, you can read up and check out some photos.  But you really need to ask your American friend.  (The dresses.  The tuxes.  The DRAMA!)  Kayla is embracing the prom protocols, and while Paul and his mother attend Saturday’s undergraduate Baccalaureate Service, Kayla and I will be at the hairdresser getting her an up-do.  Once Kayla is all dressed in her sophisticated gown and sparkly earrings, she’ll twirl a few times for the family, and head off with her friends.  Return time TBD.  She’ll be bleary-eyed but present for Commencement.

On Sunday, after the All-University phase of Commencement, we’ll attend Phase II with the Economics Department.  When all the ceremonial events are complete, Josh, some friends, their families, and our family will head back to our house to celebrate.

All in all, I expect the weekend to be bittersweet.  Sad to say good-bye to so many Fletcher students.  But very happy for all the graduates!  And proud of my Jumbo, Josh!

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Having worked at Fletcher for a long time, I find that, at a certain level, every graduating class looks the same.  They all include students working hard to learn as much as possible.  They all generate a strong feeling of community. They have vocal and quiet students, leaders and those who enjoy being led.  But, for whatever reasons, some classes seem special, and a special class is graduating on Sunday.

The Admissions Office is always asking students to do something for us.  Conduct interviews.  Host a coffee hour.  Let an admitted student stay with you for the Open House.  Take a survey.  Take another survey.  Staff an online chat.  Write something for the blog.  And more.  It’s a wonder that no one turns to us and says, “Ahem.  Do you realize that we’re not here to do your work for you?”  But they never do say that.  Not out loud, anyway.  So we have the very good fortune to get to know a lot of students.

I can’t list every graduating student in the blog, but I’d like to acknowledge the students who have spent a little extra time in the Admissions Office.  Like Bilal, Caitlin, Kartik, and Lauren, our student interns from this year or last.  If I could bottle a little of Lauren’s good cheer, I would.  No matter what we ask of her, she seems utterly delighted to have the opportunity to do it.  Asked to give the 10th tour of the week, she smiles as if I’ve just handed her a big cupcake.  We haven’t yet found the task that would shake her professionalism.

And Andrew, Rizwan, and Vanessa, who conducted Information Sessions last fall.  Vanessa occupies a special place because she has thanked me for unsolicited advice I gave her several years ago — the same kind of nosy suggestion that causes my family members’ eyes to roll.  Just glad my two cents benefited someone!

There’s also Rishi, Andrew, and Ho-Ming, who gave us two great years on the Admissions Committee.  I recently looked through my notes and discovered that Ho-Ming and I first met in 2007, an unusually long stretch between the first time I met a student and that student’s graduation, and we’ve been at least intermittently in contact for the full five years.

And though I won’t list them all here, there were a bunch of students who provided two years of interviews for us.  The interview program requires a small army of volunteers, and I’m always grateful to have returning interviewers who don’t need anything more than a schedule to jump into.

The extreme hazard in creating a list of students whose presence has added to Fletcher is that there’s always someone else to include.  To avoid egregious omission, I’ll stick to Admissions volunteers and interns.  I see them the most, and I’ll notice their absence daily.  But the Admissions staff always has their eyes out for students we interviewed or whose applications we read.  We watch them as they move along the road from applicant to graduate, sometimes checking in to make sure everything is going o.k.

And, inevitably, we feel wistful every year around Commencement time.  When I hear about the accomplishments and transitions that students have achieved through their Fletcher education, I’m thrilled for them!  But, speaking for everyone in Admissions, we’ll miss them!

CONGRATULATIONS graduating Fletcher students!!  Be sure to keep in touch — link us in, friend us, send an email now and then — and let us follow the story of your post-Fletcher lives!

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Dis-Orientation is in full swing for soon-to-graduate students.  For several years now, the completion of classes has been followed directly by a pre-Commencement week-or-so of communal fun, just as the first semester of classes is preceded by a week of Orientation.  Today’s activities are a daytime duck tour, followed by evening karaoke.  Other activities have been more cultural (touring Newport mansions) or less (many themes of party), but surely no one could complain that there’s not enough to do.  And because even nearly two weeks of togetherness may not be enough, some students have already offered to host a farewell brunch for their fellows on Monday.

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