Why it’s better to call it ‘commencement exercises’

ImageI write this short journal as sort of landmark (your point/ segment of arrival and/or departure, yes, not milestone which is very over.used) – one I would read in nostalgia and with brimming, exhilarating delight after many years in the race called life. Today, the Lord turns another page as He leads me to a new chapter.

Graduation ceremonies and rites are often labeled “commencement exercises.” The former implies ‘the end of a phase’ or a ‘departure from a certain level at school’ (e.g. high school, college) while the latter entails a ‘new era’ or ‘a beginning’ or ‘a period of transition.’ For me, graduations are a crossover period – crossing over an intersection of life. On such special occasion, students leave years of toil, hard work, and puppy fun, as they set foot on yet another period in life – but with added complexities, or to sound nicer, added value. Whichever way we call it, there’s still an aspect of moving on and learning more.

For kindergarten graduates, graduation is a crossover from basic alphabet to using these ABCs to write stories in well-structured paragraphs or compose poems with rhyme and measure. For grade school graduates, it could be a dreadful transition from fundamental Math to the more complex and “severe” problems of algebra. For high school graduates, it could mean a modification of a student’s life – the reduction of teenage pleasure – hang-outs and gimmicks, or an escape from the agony of enduring a Physics lecture. Of course, college can offer new flavors of academic thrill but with less levity (social life) or greater gravity (more complex academic demands). College, to some extent, is a preparation for your long term career in life. In that case, it’s a changeover – some radical changes will have to be considered in order to assume greater demands. Others like me who have happily chosen to experience and finish graduate studies aim for advanced learning; though relatively bigger pay is a bonus of course. In my case, graduation is more than the conferment of a Master’s degree; it’s an affirmation of your scholastic ability and academic maturity.

Regardless of whichever phase of school life you’re graduating from, the significant factor in every commencement exercise is the challenge of leaving the past but carrying with you the values of perseverance, diligence, and discipline as well as the lessons you have gained – whether cognitive (knowledge-based) or bits of wisdom and realizations you should have drawn from the topics – and how you can apply them to your career, profession, and even in real-life situations. Who said you can’t apply trigonometry to real-life situation? Uhmm, even I don’t know how. J Algebraic expressions are easier to apply but not everyone would be able to relate to it. Example, find x. I can’t relate. I never had an x. 🙂

End of the day, commencement exercises should really be a special occasion for graduating students. It is a time to celebrate God’s faithfulness in one’s life as a student, a time to give back glory to the One who bestows generously to the faithful and hardworking ‘servant’; a time to pay gratitude to our parents, guardians, grandparents, sibs, for their undying patience and support; and a time also to appreciate the usually unnoticed contributions of friends: laughter and tears. 🙂

It doesn’t matter how long it took you to finish the race, but how you kept the faith and FINISHED the race. 🙂

To batch 2012 of UP Diliman and Ateneo High School (my first batch of students), congratulations! Here’s to a new beginning! Dangal at Husay. Ad majorem Dei gloriam! 🙂


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