Currently viewing the tag: "Commencement"
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.
Fletcher 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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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