Graduation or Commencement - 2020

I am sorry for the many people missing graduations. Our family has five members whose graduations were canceled. Dagan, Esther, Madi, Trevor, and Zachary are missing graduation.   We have six church friends missing graduations:  Lillian, Megan, Dylan, Kibson, Payson and Bryce.. I am writing this letter to let you know that I care and that I wish each of you the best in coming years. Many of you may go on to graduate from a higher level.

I have been to many graduations, junior high school, high school and college. At junior high my parents gave me a self-winding watch to replace my Mickey Mouse watch. This graduation was unique and was probably a holdover from the days when many students did not finish high school.  My grandfather’s schooling ended with the eight grade. Both of my parents did graduate from high school. I was the first in the family to graduate from college.

I missed my second college graduation when I finished my doctorate. This was not the end of graduations; a professor was asked to attend two graduations a year. After the first Miami graduation I skipped for a few years with the excuse that I didn't have the required Graduation robe or toga, cap or mortar board, and had never seen a University of Utah Hood. The first Ph.D. awarded by Miami University was in Botany. I was required to attend since I was a good friend of the graduate and the only member of the Botany faculty in town. I offered my excuse about no robes so Dr. Heimsch made me wear his. I went to this graduation wearing the “Harvard Crimson” colored robe. In addition to twice a year graduations at work, I had grandchildren’s graduations. I have been to many graduations and I decided to retell some of the best. 

The most memorable was my college graduation because one professor remembered me. My claim was that I was the only student that Dr Sugihara had not recognized. As we were entering the graduation, passing all of the faculty, Dr. Sugihara stepped forward, shook my hand, and said, “Congratulations, Mr. Wilson.” I am writing this to let you know that we recognize you and your accomplishments. Distance and worries about covid-19 prevent me from shaking your hand but I would if I could. 

There were four graduations that I remember the speaker. Professor Stephen J Gould gave a graduation address, held up the pages  and told us that it would appear in the next issue of Natural History. This was a monthly publication that I read routinely. The next speaker I remember was Lydia Wurth-Pulter, Mayor of Luxembourg. I was impressed by her use of language. She could speak to all of the seven languages of the common market. Her speech was memorable because of the high quality. The third speaker was a Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry, Rita Dove. As you might guess I was impressed by her rhyming text which made us proud that she had graduated from our Miami University. The fourth memorable graduation I went to was this last summer at UVU. The speakers focused on relevant things that students could use in their lives.

If I were speaking at your graduation I would promise that when you are eighty you will look around at your graduating class and you will recognize the great things that your fellow students have accomplished. Some will struggle and some will triumph but all will do great things. The accomplishments of you and your classmates will impress you. The future is yours, use it wisely. Congratulations, celebrate, and move onward and upward.