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The Bell rang one more time May 18, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag.
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True to my word, I went off the grid recently as this was the weekend my son graduated from college.

I’m really impressed that he did this in four years while playing football full time. At each game in high school and college,  my wife rang a Swiss Cow Bell. This is not an ordinary bell. It was a souvenir from a 2001 Europe trip. The bell we chose has great harmonics – once you hear it, you know where we are sitting at a football game. Many times the seats in from of us are empty – but I digress. A great summer vacation and another post someday on the four of us driving 1500+ miles from Amsterdam to Zurich to Budapest and back to Amsterdam in 3 weeks.

Official graduation photo

Official graduation photo

That’s my boy. Very proud of him for reaching this milestone. I think he heard the bell ringing. Even if he did, he wouldn’t acknowledge it – not his style. Being an athlete and carrying a full time credit load is not so easy. AU plays at the D3 level for football. As coach has siad many times, they are ‘Student-Athletes’, emphasis on student. That was evident as we noticed several ‘super’ Seniors in the ceremony. Players that used all four years of eligibility with the NCAA and yet did not complete their degree. Some needed a 9th or 10th semester to complete their under-graduate  requirements. To be fair, playing any sport requires dedication, focus and managing your time. Different strokes and no issue.
The ceremonyhad an early start time (10:00 AM). Our party of four (my wife, my daughter, her boyfriend and moi) needed to travel so it was an early start that day to get to campus on time. We made it with time to spare; got good seats on the right side of the stage. This gave us a good vantage point to watch as each graduate walked off the stage right toward us in the bleachers and had their portrait taken holding the newly conferred diploma.
Bleacher Creature

Bleacher Creature

Our commencement speaker was our own esteemed state governor, David A. Paterson. He gave an interesting and brief speech. He talked easily and referenced that he did not remember who was the Commencement Speaker at his graduation. The governor’s humor showed when he mentioned that he hoped the AU grads. would not forgot him. He asked the graduates to stay in New York to live and work . He received an honorary degree as a Doctor of Humane Laws, honoris causa.
The program has it listed as hororis causa, but that is just wrong.
AU 2009 Commencement Speaker

AU 2009 Commencement Speaker

After his speech was done , he left. On to another commencement, I suppose.  Then it finally dawned on me why the ceremony started so early – we were constrained by the Governor’s schedule. Obviously, AU was his first stop. He walked off the stage (exit, stage right, which was just below our seats). He and his entourage walked out of the Mc ClaneCenter and on with the ceremony.
Dr. Charles Edmondson, the AU President, mentioned in his opening remarks the service was informal – take pictures of your graduate, let your baby cry.
So, there was a blur of motion as graduates walked up to the podium, got their degree, walked off, got the official portrait as well as the family snaps.
When Robert walked across the stage, my wife rang the Swiss cowbell. Granted it was not a football game, but she rang the bell at his high school graduation also. So, it rang out one more time as Robert closed out his undergraduate career. Nice to hear it even inside the school gym.
Congratulations to all the 2009 college graduates. Good luck finding gainful employment. You’ll need it as only 19% of the graduates have a job coming out of college (compared to 26% in 2008).
Can’t wait for Robert’s Grad. School ceremony next year and the bell will ring once again.