Currently viewing the tag: "Commencement"

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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Friday-to-Sunday happy events marked my weekend.  Friday evening, I joined a pack of other parents taking pictures of our kids as they headed off to junior prom, an American rite of passage.  Meanwhile, at Fletcher, graduating students, alumni, staff, and faculty enjoyed the annual commencement weekend Fletcher clambake.

On Saturday, Mother Nature gave us a glorious break from our recent damp grey weather, with sunshine and warmth greeting students for Class Day.  After a quick burst of gardening (couldn’t miss out on the sun), I came up to campus to hear an inspiring speech from John Kerry (U.S. Senator from Massachusetts), and to wish students well and meet a few of their parents.

I enjoyed Class Day, but also regretted that I was attending it in place of Sunday’s commencement event, which I hear was wonderful.  (I read in The Boston Globe that there were ten local university commencements yesterday, and I was celebrating with family members at another of them.)  I’m just waiting to access photos from the Fletcher event on the website.

So much promise being launched in one day!  I’m sorry I missed the Fletcher ceremony, but it’s the accomplishments to come that really count.  Congratulations to Fletcher’s newest alumni!

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Of course we’re happy for our graduates!  How could we not be, after they’ve put in two years of hard work, capping their experience with marathon thesis-writing sessions?  But there are so many people we’ll miss!  As a result, these few days are marked by an atmosphere that is genuinely bittersweet.  We’re looking forward to Commencement weekend, while regretting that many of our favorite people will be moving on.

Every graduating class includes students who are special to the Fletcher faculty and staff.  Either they’ve made a strong mark on the School — inside or outside of the classroom — or, for the Admissions staff, we may have known them since their application days.  In any year, I could highlight any number of students who will be remembered long after they graduate.  Today, I want to give a moment of recognition to all the students who contributed more than their share of time to the Admissions Office.  I’ll call them the Friends of Admissions, and they are abundant in the Class of 2011.

Among the Friends of Admissions are those who have worked for us at a pay rate that could best be described as “partial compensation,” including Amy, Andrew, Chris, Cheney, David, Eddie, Sabah, and Vincent.  There are two-year interviewers, including Anthony, Barbara, Eugen, Fabian, Patrick (who, I believe, is everywhere at once), and Raquel.  And there are those who always make themselves available when we need them, including Fatema, who set the bar for School involvement by LLM students.  I’m sorry that a comprehensive list would be longer than this blog post will allow.

But while it is absolutely true that students help us get our work done, we value them even more for their enthusiasm, engagement, intelligence, kindness, and that sense we have that they’re building toward the time (coming soon) when they’ll be off doing wonderful things.  No matter how bogged down we may be, a day is always brighter when a Friend of Admissions strolls into the office to find out what we’re up to, or provide an update on the baby (Vincent), or ask whether one of their favorite interviewees has been admitted (Chris), or grab a piece of chocolate (Cheney).  We’ll miss you, Friends of Admissions!

To the Friends of Admissions and all other students who will graduate on Sunday, we wish you copious good luck in your post-Fletcher lives.  Please keep in touch!

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Every Fletcher Commencement features speeches by two graduating students who have been selected by their peers.  On Sunday, we heard from MIB graduate Poomsanti Wairith from Thailand, and MALD graduate Joshua Gross.  Both of their speeches included words of reflection and inspiration, simultaneously humorous and serious.  I asked if I could include a sample from each speech in the blog.  First to speak was Poom:

Do you still remember the first week, the orientation? I was constantly amazed and humbled.  With classmates who speak multiple languages, who have worked abroad extensively, and who have ambitious goals to “save the world,” I knew from the start that, “Wow! This will be the best two-year learning experience in my life.”  And you know what?  My time here has proved I was not wrong at all.

My first team was composed of a Thai economist, an American air-force veteran, a Singaporean navy captain, an Indian software engineer, and myself, an accountant. This became a common theme with all my teams throughout the past two years.  Working with such diverse groups has not only allowed me to gain broader and different perspectives, but also enabled me to learn about different cultures and how to work within a highly diverse environment. For example, did you know that not everyone puts fish sauce in everything they eat? I did not!

This two-year experience has been extremely satisfying for me. I came to Fletcher for the promise of a high quality and relevant education, an actively involved intellectual community, the opportunity to develop my personal and professional skills, and to make life-long friendships.  I received all of that.

Next up was Josh.  He started with an apology to the Office of Career Services for failing to perfect his “elevator speech.”   You know — the pitch you give to a potential employer when you happen to catch the same elevator.  He explained:

I have suffered from two years of elevator speech writer’s block. And to be honest, I don’t think any of us can explain WHO WE ARE in 30 seconds. We have too many interests, too many doubts, and too many plans to stuff into that awkward elevator ride….So I’m going to do you all a favor. I will attempt to compose an elevator speech for Fletcher. It will be an elevator speech for all of us, collectively, the MALDS, MIBs, LLMs, GMAPs, MAs, PhDs and MAHAs, one and all.

Josh then described how he boiled his experience and understanding of Fletcher into a simple answer, one that will serve future generations of students well.

“So, Fletcher, tell me about yourself…”

We are Fletcher. We doubt. We question. We Change Our Minds.
We are Fletcher. Nothing is black and white. Bring on the grey.
We are Fletcher. We are not strangers to sacrifice.
We are Fletcher. Our friendships have no borders.

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All the Admissions staffers are proud of this year’s graduates, but none more so than Kristen, who has a personal connection to every MIB student.  I asked her to share her feelings, as her first graduating class heads out.

Sunday’s graduation ceremonies marked an important milestone, not only for the graduating students, but for me as well. I have had the pleasure of working with the inaugural class of MIB students since they first expressed interest in the School. The first I can remember meeting, Alvaro Gimenez Gil, came by one summer day, just a few months after I started at Fletcher in 2006. He was so excited about this unique program that he actually put off his graduate school plans for one year, and waited until the program began in September 2008. Now he has officially graduated and is off to an exciting job in investment banking in Chile.

I have a story like this for each and every one of the 35 students in the first graduating class of MIBs, and I can’t imagine a more entrepreneurial, energetic, professional, and engaged bunch. They have been the best possible supporters of the program. They have taken the time to stop by our offices to let us know what has gone well, and what could use some improvement. Because of their input, the students who followed in the class of 2011 experienced a more refined curriculum, better class options, and a stronger advisory network. This is very much the Fletcher way — to respond to student feedback — and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Like Jessica mentioned in her last post, graduation can be a bittersweet time. It allows me to reflect on the work I am lucky to do here at Fletcher, and the people I am fortunate enough to work with — students, staff and faculty alike. It’s also sad to know that these students are about to scatter to the wind. Still, the pride I felt in seeing the culmination of four years of work, as embodied in the parade of MIB graduates across the stage, is undeniable, and I look forward to staying in touch with them to see what lies ahead.

Congratulations, class of 2010!

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Yesterday’s early-morning clouds disbursed, providing the Class of 2010 with a day that was both joyful and dry!  The University has already posted some quick photos and stories, describing the “all-University” portion of the event.  (You’ll find happy (and tired) Fletcher students in photos 16, 26, and 30.)  The Fletcher ceremony that followed included:  a welcome from Dean Bosworth; the awarding of several student awards; the introduction (by graduating-student Beka Feathers) of Prof. Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, the winner of the Paddock Teaching Award, and her speech; congratulatory and instructive words from elected student speech-givers Joshua Gross and Poomsanti Wairith.  And then, the happy moment when each graduating student was called up in turn to receive a diploma.

Commencement is always a lovely day, with just a bit of sadness mixed in.  I enjoyed seeing students in their spiffy finest, and meeting their parents, spouses, and friends.  I also noted just how many people I really could have (or, even, should have) included in Friday’s blog post.  What a great bunch of people!

By the time I arrived this morning, there was already a graduate waiting for a taxi to take him out of town.  The office has had a few early visitors, as they pull everything together before their travels.  A few graduated students will be around for part of the summer, helping us to weather the transition.  We’ll miss the members of the class of 2010, but we’re excited for what they’re about to achieve.  It was a great pleasure to send them off on such a beautiful and happy day.

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In just two days, the Fletcher class of 2010 will graduate.  Every class includes a few people for whom I feel a particular fondness or connection.  Sunday’s cap-and-gowned group is loaded with special people, many of whom you may have read about in the blog.  Allow me to mention just a few.

Going back two full years, there’s Hania Bekdash, who started work in the Admissions Office before she even started classes, and has been a member of our Admissions family ever since.

Then there’s Jessie Evans, who didn’t turn up at Fletcher until Orientation, but was a regular pre-matriculation presence on the blog.  During her two years here, Jessie helped bring us an annual bone marrow registry drive, a simple but invaluable means of engaging with the wider world.

Joshua Haynes visited on the day we set aside in February ’08 for admitted students who had applied by the Early Notification deadline.  He was the first real-live MIB student I had met.  (This is less strange than it sounds, since he is a member of the first MIB class.)  Not only has Joshua made as much of his time here as we ever could have hoped, but he holds this year’s unofficial record for languages in which he has passed the proficiency exam:  six (I think), including Mandarin and Arabic.

Another Admissions Office student staffer:  Jessie Smith.  As far as I can tell, there’s nothing she didn’t do while she was here!  Ski trips, Student Council, Ambassachords….The final confirmation that she had a hand in literally everything came when the first emails went out about the Diplomat’s Ball.  Surely she couldn’t be organizing that, too!  Oh, yes, she could.

Among other high energy students, Han Kim, who made the School proud when he whipped a Fletcher flag from the pack he carried all the way through the Boston Marathon last spring.  Han is heading out to a PhD program — apparently his Fletcher experience left him wishing for more reading and writing.

Rounding out the roster of graduating students who worked in the Office is Kristin Mencer.  Kristin could always be counted on for her good cheer and contagious laugh, even when she worked in the morning, which, she acknowledged, is not her favorite time of day.

The list of great members of the class of 2010 could go on and on. There’s Reuben Levy who, like Hania, started working at Fletcher before he was even a student; Greg Bertleff, who seems endlessly cheerful; Lola Adeyemo, whom I first met when she was a member of a group of undergraduates who came for a visit.  There are those I saw regularly, those I barely met, and those I learned about through their application and then kept a quiet eye on, always interested in learning what they would add to the community.  And, of course, there’s the long list of students to whom we feel truly grateful:  on behalf of the Admissions Office, they interviewed, on-line chatted, housed admitted students, and generally made our jobs doable.

The soon-to-graduate students in two-year programs (MALD and MIB) started their application process not quite three years ago.  Around that same time, my son, Josh, started his applications to college.  Watching/helping Josh, as he anguished over essays and anxiously awaited responses from his schools, helped me relate to Fletcher applicants.  Is this why I’ll especially miss the 2010s?  Or are they just an uncommonly special bunch of people?  Hard to say, but I know that I hope to hear from them soon, and often, as they go off to change the world.

Congratulations, graduates!  We’ll miss you!

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