hi all – Meredith here.
Well, that’s it. We’re done. I’m through. And I’ve got a degree to prove it.
Yesterday, yours truly strode across the stage at convocation and officially earned my Master’s degree in Cultural Studies.
Our convocation session was relatively early (10am) — which meant we had to be at Kingston Hall to collect our gowns by 9am. Once we had donned them (and checked away our coats), we had to convene in a lecture hall where they lined us up in alphabetical number (we had each been assigned a number). I could tell a few faces in the crowd were nervous, but generally, the tone was celebratory and fun.
My mom and step-father, who had come in from out of town for the occasion, proceeded to Grant Hall where they were able to claim spectacular nearly-front-row seats for the ceremony.
We trundled into the hall two-by-two, clad in our black robes and with our degree-appropriate hoods draped over our arms. After the singing of God Save the Queen (I have to admit, that part rather surprised me!), we listened to Principal Woolf’s opening remarks.
The honourary degree recipient for our session was Janina Fialkowska, a well-regarded concert pianist who spoke eloquently and honestly about her own experience finding meaning and purpose in her work. I appreciated her honesty (she began, for example, but admitting that success has a lot to do with luck and perseverance, as much as anything else) and her casual, slightly self-depricating delivery.
After that, it was our turn to take to the stage — first the PhDs, then the Master’s students, and then a handful of people who had just earned their Bachelor’s degrees. I enjoyed watching each person have his or her moment on stage — from hearing their name called allowed, to standing awkwardly facing the audience, waiting for their hood to be dropped down over their head.
I also particularly enjoyed the fabulous parade of shoes.
Once my name was called, I felt like it all went rather quickly: stop for the hood-draping, shake hands with the Chancellor (I also shook hands with the Rector, seeing as I had been his teaching assistant a couple of years ago), and then carry on down the steps, stopping for an Alumni pin on the way. Done and done. Then sit back down on your seat, fully and completely graduated.
All in all, it was a very pleasant ceremony. Queen’s prides itself on its rich history, and that’s palpable at these kind of events. I suspect this convocation ceremony was not unlike many convocation ceremonies that have gone before it — and in that, there is a sort of comfort. In taking part, we become part of that history and tradition, too.
And now, it’s time for me to sign off. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ll be far less qualified to write to you about life in Graduate School — but know that I’ll miss this little writing ritual. I’ve enjoyed sharing my ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, moments of confidence and periods of doubt with you.
These last couple of years have been quite a ride: I arrived in the fall of 2009 feeling baffled and uncertain about what was going to happen next. I’ve learned an awful lot and am proud of myself for persevering and for earning the degree (because as anyone who knows me will tell you, there were certainly moments when it seemed impossible!).
To those of you still working your way along the path to your degree – keep going! I’ll tell you from here that convocation will feel extra-sweet when you get there.
It’s been an absolute pleasure writing for you.
Until our paths cross again,