Currently viewing the tag: "Commencement"

Well.  What can I possibly say that I haven’t said before on the occasion of Commencement, an event with which I have a love-hate relationship.  I love all the joy associated with sending wonderful people off to do terrific things.  And the ceremony itself — so joyous.  I shed a few tears of happiness every year.

And hate is a strong word.  The wrong word, in fact.  I certainly don’t hate Commencement, but I am annually struck by the bittersweet nature of the event.  We in Admissions know that our closest Fletcher friends will be with us for only a couple of years, but we treasure them while they’re here.  Admissions Ambassadors, members of the Admissions Committee, Interview Volunteers, and our amazing Graduate Assistants (looking at you, David and Moni!) — the students who keep us in the know about the heart of life at Fletcher.  We so enjoy interacting with them, and we’re sorry that our relationship will change.

But change it must, as they transition from students to alumni.  And all we can hope (expect! demand!) is that they will stay in touch.

So, to my friends in the Class of 2016, keep us posted!  Drop a line now and then.  “Friend” us.  Link us in.  We want to hear from you.  After all, the true satisfaction in Admissions work comes at the far end, when we send you off into the world to do those things you wrote about in your application essays.  I can’t wait to receive your updates!

For now, BIG congratulations to you and your families, and all best wishes as you move along to your post-Fletcher life!

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With fewer than ten days remaining until Commencement, the needed structures are starting to appear.  I took a walk through the heart of the University campus this morning and found the platform and tent that will be used for the main graduation ceremony that precedes Fletcher’s event for the conferring of diplomas.

All those fences will come down and chairs will be set up on the grass for the thousands of guests who attend.

We’ve enjoyed fantastic weather lately and the warm temperatures have coaxed into bloom the flowers and trees that are running a little behind schedule, due to our crazy winter.

And there’s a new statue of Jumbo, the Tufts mascot, to greet Commencement guests, too.

The Fletcher exam period ended yesterday, and the Hall of Flags is nearly deserted this morning.  Some students are still completing research papers and may also have exams at other schools where they have cross-registered for classes.  But most first-year students are off to internships and second-year students are starting their “Dis-Orientation” week today.  Dis-Orientation is the official/unofficial student-organized week of social events that is the closing bracket on the Fletcher experience that began with Orientation at the start of their studies.

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Despite the overall post-Commencement feel that has fallen upon Fletcher this week, I’ve been fortunate to connect with a few students as they spent their last minutes here before taking off for new adventures.  Of those, several are days away from a flight to a distant locale.  Others won’t start said adventures until later in the summer, giving them a nice hiatus — free of both coursework and career searching.  And some will be pursuing adventures in the Boston area, meaning we don’t need to say farewell yet.

Nonetheless, the graduation tents have been dismantled one-by-one, and the first of the summer construction teams have moved in.  Fletcher will undergo some relatively minor repairs and renovation, but even minor repairs mean that the Office of Career Services is currently working out of Blakeley Hall.

Symeon and the deanInto the mix came this sweet photo of Dean Stavridis, Symeon Tegos, and Erietta (tiniest graduate) Tegos.  Symeon tells me that Erietta is only two and a half months old.  (Aww!  So sweet!)  Her dad was in the one-year MA program, surely making this a year to remember for their family.  In fact, in an email to Dean Stavridis that circled around to me, Symeon wrote:

This was an incredible year.  The birth of my daughter changed me in ways I considered impossible only weeks ago, while the exposure to Fletcher had an unexpected profound effect on me.  I have to express my gratitude for this amazing experience.  Soon I will be heading back home where I will do my best to give back what I so generously received.  I will never forget Fletcher and your example.

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I spent a lot of time on campus this weekend, enjoying Commencement and Reunion activities.  On Saturday, I turned up at about 11:00 and greeted a few students who were waiting for the Class Day activities to begin.  I was sorry not to join them for the day’s speakers, but I was on my way to a panel on life and careers after Fletcher, offered and attended by alumni from the classes of 1989, 1994, and 1999.  I had gone (accompanied by my husband, Paul) to see our friend Charlie Scott F’94, who has recently reinvented himself as the Family Adventure Guy.  As it turns out, the panel discussion featured not only his presentation, but also those of three other alums, including the ambassador to the U.S. from Thailand.  (Ambassador Isarabhakdi said he had wanted to attend Fletcher since he was a young teen.  That’s direction!)  The panel took place on the 7th floor of the Cabot Intercultural Center (one of three attached Fletcher buildings).  The University is on a hill, giving us a nice view from the 7th floor of both the campus and the city beyond.

View from 7F
All the different Commencement venues were set and ready for events, including the thousands of chairs on the quad.


The next day was the main event.  I came up to campus at about 10:45, by which time Fletcher students were streaming across the street from the all-University ceremony (where, the dean noted, they were a noisy bunch — see photo #19 in the photo gallery) to the Fletcher graduation.  At about 11:10, two things were going on.  First, a photographer was attempting to wrangle the faculty into a shot.


At the same time, the Registrar’s staff (and any of us who had offered to help) started herding the graduates into Blakeley Hall courtyard, where they would line up for their procession.

Eventually, everyone was in the graduation tent, and Dean Stavridis could kick off the ceremony.


Prof. Moomaw, who yesterday became professor emeritus, reflected on his career and experience at Fletcher.


And then came the student speakers, Amy


and Bob

Prof Moomaw
Both of their speeches were terrific, but Amy scored points with me by mentioning the Admissions Blog!  By the end of the ceremony yesterday, speakers had, interestingly, quoted Robert Frost, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner — not the usual cast of characters for a Fletcher graduation.

Finally, degrees were awarded.  Some students invited their children to join them.  The award for tiniest diploma recipient (in academic regalia) goes to this tiny tot:

Baby grad

And then it was done!  For me, Commencement is an opportunity to celebrate students I have come to know, as well as remind myself of people with whom I was in contact before they enrolled.  (Ohhhh!  I interviewed her, but totally forgot she was in this class….)  For the 310 students who graduated, it was two beautiful blue-skied days, and many, many happy family members.  A day for all to remember!

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One positive by-product of our cool spring (others call it a long winter) is the flowering trees that in other years would have been at their peak in April, but are still in full bloom this week.  The campus is always lovely for Commencement weekend, but it seems particularly beautiful this year.  No matter where graduates and family find themselves, they will be able to enjoy flowering trees, along with Commencement tents.

The lawn beside the President’s House:

President's Lawn

The courtyard in front of Blakeley Hall (the Fletcher dormitory), where graduating students will gather before starting their Commencement procession:

Blakeley tent

And Fletcher Field (behind the tennis courts), where graduates will receive their diplomas, after listening to speeches by Dean Stavridis and two of their peers, Amy Tan and Bob Lynch:

Fletcher field

I took the photos this morning, before the skies had cleared and the sun came out.  Whether nature brings us sun or clouds, we can count on Commencement being a beautiful day.

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Tents remain in place around campus, but Fletcher and the rest of Tufts have the yearly post-Commencement underpopulated look.  By all accounts, Sunday’s ceremony was lovely, and the weather kindly cooperated — sunny all morning, but not too hot.  The main Tufts website has photos and a short video to give you a sense of how everything looked.

Commencement, Fletcher grads

Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend Sunday’s ceremony (more on that later this week), but I was at Saturday’s Class Day event where a wonderful alumni address was given by Paulo Bilyk F’92.  Awards were then distributed, following which we heard from Dean Bosworth, who shared tales from his long career as a diplomat.  Dean Bosworth was also honored on Sunday, when he was named Dean Emeritus of the School.  Earlier in the day, Fletcher students cheered him when he conferred their degrees at the All-University phase of Commencement.

Commencement, Dean Bosworth

I ran into a few students this morning, but I think it’s fair to say that they have mostly moved on.  When the tents come down this week, even Commencement, never mind the spring semester, will seem like a distant memory.  Good luck and best wishes, Class of 2013!

(Thank you to University photographers, Kevin Ma and Emily Zilm, whose photos I borrowed.)

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Never mind the University’s offer of health insurance, retirement funds, or access to the Tufts gym, the most rewarding benefit of working at Fletcher is the opportunity to get to know our fantastic students.  Unlike access to the gym, it is a benefit that I take advantage of every day.  And that’s why the joy that students feel at their own graduation is mixed with a little sadness for me and other members of the Fletcher faculty and staff.  It isn’t that we’ll never hear from these people again — in fact, there are some beloved members of the class of 2008 due back for this weekend’s reunion — but the nature of our contact inevitably changes.

Every year, I try to recognize those students who have regularly brightened my day.  There’s no way to cover the entire list — this is a blog, not an encyclopedic resource — but I’ll single out a few groups, not that thanking them is a substitute for seeing them regularly.

For starters, there are the stalwart Admissions Interns who do the widest possible array of substantive and trivial tasks for us, always with good cheer.  Farewell and good luck to Katie and (Dear) Ariel!  Then there are the students who are selected to serve on the Admissions Committee.  Thank you to this year’s rock star team of Lily, Bernardo, Felix, Margot, and Hillary (who did double duty as an Admissions Intern, starting her work with us before classes began two years ago).  Thanks, too, to Elspeth, a Januarian who did her Admissions Committee service a year ago, but also spent some time with us this spring, turning data messes into beautiful reports.  And more thanks to Violet, Juan Sebastian, and Heidi, who participated on the MIB Admissions Committee either this year or last.  Finally, thanks and good luck to our wonderful, generous, and dedicated volunteer interviewers.

And, of course, there are dozens of others.  There’s Patrick, whom I’ve known seemingly forever.  And Maliheh whom I’ve so enjoyed working with on the blog.  And PhD students including Erik, Courtney, and Ethan, all of whom have also supported the work of the Admissions Office.  From here, it becomes difficult to isolate individuals, but thanks to the many people whose minute of conversation is well worth stopping for as we cross the Hall of Flags.  Or students whose applications I promoted in Admissions Committee meetings, but who don’t know that, and also don’t know that I watch their progress through Fletcher to be sure they were a good bet.  Or students who pepper the Social List with interesting (or “interesting”) bits of news, analysis, information, or humor, keeping us informed about students’ interests and concerns.

Naturally, I hope that all of these students and all their classmates enjoy their Commencement weekend and bask in the pride of friends and family.  But don’t forget us after you leave Fletcher!  Send a note once in a while.  Connect with us via your preferred social medium.  Most important:  Do great things in your work and community that we hear about in the years to come.  We’ll miss you, but we wish you all the best!

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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.

CommencementFletcher 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.

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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.

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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.

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