Wednesday, May 20, 2009

W&M Commencement

On Sunday, my youngest graduated from college. I’m not an overly sentimental person, so I am going to refrain from waxing poetic about the rite of passage. I'll just say that I have been struck by how major this transition is, for him and me both, and that I look forward to seeing how the future works out for him. My job of parenting is mainly done. Some will say that a parent's work is never really done, but in my experience, there's relatively little parenting required once your kids are no longer under your personal care and supervision, and no longer your direct financial responsibility.

At the end of the summer, my son will be heading to grad school at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. I don’t know much about Kansas, or anywhere else in the heartland for that matter, but it will be fun to visit him there, and explore an entirely-new-to-me part of the country.

The William & Mary commencement was full of pomp and tradition, as you might expect. Here are a few photos.

The Senior Class Candlelight Ceremony, held the night before commencement:

Commencement morning begins with the graduates walking through the Wren Building and across campus to William & Mary Hall, where the ceremony is held.

It's a rain or shine kind of tradition.

The processional into W&M Hall, as viewed from the nosebleed section:

Tom Brokaw was the commencement speaker. Here is the address.

Overall, I thought the speech was a good one, but I found this little excerpt pretty sexist. See if you agree:

" the women of the class of 2009, be forewarned: These boys sitting beside you who are about to become men will take their inner boy-and their baseball caps and their sports teams-with them and they will never completely understand you. To the male members of this class, remember this: These girls beside you who will become women will continue to spend what you believe is an inordinate amount of time and money on their hair and on their shoes. And guys, I promise you, you will continue to underestimate their abilities and their ambitions-and that's just the way they want it."

Really, Tom?


Anonymous said...

dead on.

Larry G said...

I'm a guy and obviously was not there..but from the passage supplied.. I wouldn't be surprised if the tone was decidedly tongue-in-cheek...perhaps from a male point of view.

is that not a statement that your average women would make?
(fully exposing my abject ignorance on the issue)?

Merry N said...

I'm not a part of the "women who spend too much time and money on shoes and hair" crowd, and it seemed a bit condescending at a commencement, as if to say to the women, yes, you spent 4 years getting your degree, but the thing men should know about you is the shoes and hair thing. And as for his characterization of the men, well, my physics major son doesn't own a baseball cap, nor follow sports. And what did he mean by women wanting men to underestimate them? Yes, I know he was trying for humor, and it was in the context of a really fine speech that covered a lot of important ground. It just really missed the mark for me.

cabinlady said...

When my oldest graduated from UNH Meryl Streep was the speaker. I really like her work as an actress, but her speech did not move me. She only spoke about women and the the roles they were taking on. I had a son that was graduating and felt she could have or should have spoken to everyone one there. Especially since her nephew was in the graduating class and was the one reason she spoke. However, there were no words of support or wisdom for the men that day. Oh well. No one is prefect.