Skip to main content


ICC 650
Box 571014

37th & O St, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20057

maps & directions

Phone: (202) 687.6400



Musings re Commencement

This is commencement week at Georgetown, during which there are scores of celebratory events. There are award sessions for graduates of individual programs, department-level gatherings of majors who have completed the programs, multicultural ceremonies, Lavender graduation for LGBTQ+ graduates, a ceremony (“DisCO”) for the disability community, and big commencement ceremonies with honorary degree speakers.

This week always reawakens memories of the scores of end of spring semester and commencement events I have witnessed.

It begins during examination period. A few flashbacks:

As the examination period transpires, roller-board suitcases pulled across campus, with increasing volume. Boxes packed up for residence halls, storage crews hauling them to facilities for the summer. Move-out is ongoing, with some parents loading up their student, who is still running on adrenalin from the week of final projects and exams. They’ll sleep for many hours over the next few days.

The last-minute updating of paint and garden beds by grounds crews, helping the campus look its best for graduates and their supporters. One gets the feeling that the lawns, gardens, flowers, and trees know what’s coming up. Time to get ready for a large set of visitors; got to look good.

Setting up the tents throughout the campus for receptions and group ceremonies. They’re respites from heat and rain. A large amount of food is scheduled for preparation, delivery, and consumption in these tents and buildings throughout campus over the next few days.

Time for the award and group ceremonies, more than different events, with most held between Tuesday and Sunday. A blur of setup, processions, speeches, and joyful noise. Less ritual, more emotion.

A multicultural ceremony, run primarily by students, filled with shouting of names of friends, jokes about shared memories of four years. The unmistakable feeling of being with a family, a community that supported one another through good times and bad, as each graduate made their way through an institution with few people who looked like them.

A tropaia event with a young alumnus delivering the message that the Georgetown lessons and values equipped them for their entry into the “real world.” They report that in their early days at Georgetown, they struggled and grappled with imposter-syndrome thoughts. But they succeeded. Now, they held on to a set of ways of thinking and ways of treating others and again, they are succeeding.

Time for the school-level big commencements, sometimes separate events for undergraduates and graduates, school by school, planned for Healy lawn.

Constant monitoring of the weather forecast. Two big enemies – rain (forcing quick use of a gym and multiplied but smaller commencement groups) and heat/humidity.

A view from the podium: A young BA graduate in black robes on a hot, sunny mid-day commencement, swaying back and forth in her seat, bouncing back and forth against her adjacent seat mates. She seems deeply tired, probably hung-over. At a certain point, she falls asleep on the shoulder of her seatmate, awakening only much later in the ceremony.

A PhD hooding ceremony. The PhD candidate mounts the stage with a young baby in their arms. The baby is adorned in a little black graduation robe and a little hand-made cap just like his Dad. The crowd goes wild.

The shouting and cheering of large families when their first-gen graduate’s name is called and they walk on stage to receive their diploma scroll. The sense that the graduate has uplifted the entire family by their singular accomplishment.

The president shaking thousands of hands over three days. A tall bachelor’s graduate, so happy on stage, hugging the president and lifting him into the air.

There are few times in work of the university as joyful as these days. It’s a treasure of our work that we can experience them.

One thought on “Musings re Commencement

  1. True hoya joy ! Looking toward to senior convocation tomorrow. I’ve Heard the weather should be nice ! New Hoyas go
    Out and set the world on fire!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Office of the ProvostBox 571014 650 ICC37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington D.C. 20057Phone: (202) 687.6400Fax: (202)

Connect with us via: