Sunday, May 13, 2012

Every beginning: Rice 2012 Commencement

Yesterday was Rice’s 99th Commencement. It thunderstormed throughout the night and we did not know until the morning if the ceremony would be held outside. I don’t know why I was so nervous but with the storm outside I could barely sleep. Fortunately the weather cleared up enough for everyone to gather in our beautiful academic quad. Jules who is back in town for the summer texted me at 7:04AM- “its outside hurrying up and getting ready”.

It was cloudy outside so pictures from my 5-year-old camera look like this:

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Our commencement speaker was Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy. You can watch the video for yourself here (introduction begins at 25:50). My favorite part of the speech was his thought exercise. Picture yourself 50 years from now (“with President Bieber”). You probably have many regrets: not telling people you love them, not spending time with your family, working too hard, and so on. Then imagine that a genie appears and grants you the opportunity to live your life again. Here, this is reality: this is your second chance.

Isn’t this a profoundly different way to look at life?

I feel bittersweet. I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while which is always nice. I’m also proud of my babies for graduating and heading off into the wild but we’re scattering all over the world. “Bye, I’ll see you later… I mean, keep in touch! Good luck with life.”

Here’s our summer family (Lo has been replaced- just kidding):
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I did got one good shot when the sun came out for two minutes. This is minutes before new graduates walked out of the Sallyport. This is one of Rice’s many quirky traditions. If you do so before commencement day, you will never graduate.

On our way home “How’s It Gonna Be” played on the radio. Around graduation season every song starts to sound relevant. For me, this graduation also wrapped up the end of this gap year. So this is really happening: I’m going back to being a student.