From daddy’s promise of that new two-seater to the comfort of having recently landed a real adult job, college graduation can be quite the cloud nine. Just as easily, the thought alone can be quite a nuisance. All it takes is that fear of getting your name butchered before you walk across the stage or the worry of finding a place to fit all those empty handles of alcohol memorabilia before your parents arrive to turn commencement into resentment.
Perhaps the unsure nature of it all is what causes these emotions. No one knows exactly how graduation day will pan out, yet everyone still imagines a plan — be it a bunch of baloney or not.
“I’m not looking forward to my mom’s face when she meets my boyfriend,” said Evelyn Larson, senior economics major. “She always frowned upon the idea of me having a boyfriend in college, and here we are, three years strong, and she has no idea that he exists.”
Larson hopes that her honors status, graduating with a reputable 3.6 GPA, will outweigh her surprise boyfriend. She plans on attending an early breakfast with her mom that morning, feathering her mom’s mood by reminding her of what a smart, beautiful and hardworking daughter she has.
“I hope some good food and a talk reminding her of how ‘I couldn’t have done this without you’ will be good enough preparation for what I’m going to drop on her when we get to the ceremony,” Larson said. “I think I’ll first introduce him as a good friend, and hopefully she’ll get the point. I hope she gets the point.”
Luckily for senior English major Matthew Hunt, his girlfriend and parents are already well acquainted.
“I don’t know if I’m looking forward to graduation as much as I am the day before when my mom, dad and girl get out here from Fresno,” Hunt said. “I haven’t seen them all in a few months. Hopefully my graduating will be the perfect reunion.”
After the commencement ceremony, Hunt plans to attend dinner with the three of them at a nice restaurant in downtown Davis or Sacramento, right before he ditches his parents for an intimate sunset with his girlfriend at the UC Davis Arboretum.
“Graduation is a big thing for me,” Hunt said. “That time at the Arboretum will hopefully be a time where my girl and I can reflect on our two years together as well as an opportunity for me to confide in her my emotions about closing this chapter in my life. It’s still very surreal now, but I believe at that moment I’ll be able to put this whirlwind called college into better perspective.”
But while some graduates relish in having etched out intimate plans, others are viewing graduation as yet another (perhaps final) opportunity to rage with their friends.
Joshua Dicini, a senior international relations major, said he could do all the retrospective stuff later. On graduation day, he’s trying to keep the party going.
“I don’t envision myself getting all emotional,” Dicini said. “I’ll probably wake up to my housemate Joey – who is also graduating – asking me how much water to put in the iron, since four years of college still hasn’t taught the kid anything. I know I’ll miss stuff like that later, so in that moment, everything is going to be appreciated.”
For Dicini, that same old song every high school kid was told came true: the friends he made in college will be his friends for the rest of his life. But he realizes things will never be the same as in undergraduate years, so graduation day and night will hold as his pre-nostalgic bash.
“My parents will be staying for a day or two after graduation, so I don’t think it’ll be a big deal if after the ceremony I want to have a few drinks and hit a few bars with my friends,” Dicini said. “Graduation day will be filled with laughs and frivolity; nothing productive, but just raw fun and celebration. My friends and I are going to live like freshmen once more.”
Larson has an inkling that one of her good friends might be throwing her a surprise graduation party.
“One of my younger friends, Tiffany, has been constantly asking me about my plans for graduation day from like start to finish,” Larson said. “It’s like she’s trying to find an empty slot or something. As much as I need to focus on this whole boyfriend thing, I would be stoked about a surprise party. I envision everyone in Davis who I care about to be there. That would be an awesome way to go out.”
While surrounding plans and circumstances may be altered, there is one thing that will surely occur during this spring’s graduation ceremony: graduation itself.
“The one thing that is certain about how that day will go is that my undergraduate career will be over,” Hunt said. “The word ‘over’ never gave me such mixed, ambiguous feelings before. It’s the same feeling I had when graduating from high school and going to college, except I’m in such a different place now. I wonder when will be the next time I’ll have this feeling.”
ISAIAH SHELTON can be reached at email@example.com.