Graduation is fun for everyone — well, mostly just my mother

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May 8, 2011

My mom is super excited about my graduation. She didn’t have the opportunity to go to college when she was younger, and sort of lives vicariously through me sometimes. Well, she does wear her “Mills College Mom” shirt as often as possible. I, on the other hand, am generally a frenzied, frustrated mess that can’t seem to take a moment to appreciate the fact that my Mills experience will soon all be over.

It’s unfortunate that graduation comes right at the time when you are least likely to enjoy it. At least that’s been my experience for the past few months. The unexpected deluge of tasks that have presented themselves to me always seem to take priority over dinners, dances, parties and other traditions associated with the ending of one’s tenure at Mills. Plus, sometimes I really just don’t care about all the pomp and circumstance.

This general business and apathy towards all things graduation-related means I sent out graduation announcements not too long ago. Okay, my mother sent out my graduation announcements not too long ago. I couldn’t find the time to do it. Or maybe I didn’t want to make the time.

I’m pretty sure I was at work each time she called me about it. The fact that my immediate future was uncertain has made me save more money than I ever have—which really just means I am saving money period.

Maybe my non-attendance at certain graduation related events has to do with the fact that I tend to leave planning until the last minute. Although I found out today I will be gainfully employed after graduation day, I don’t know where I’ll be living. I’ve started looking at the various underpasses surrounding the area. Well, I might.

Don’t get me wrong, my time at Mills has been amazing. I have so many great memories from the past four years. I have met some people that have become so important in my life, and gained perspective on things never would have if I hadn’t left my hometown of Salem, Oregon after high school.

However, I really don’t get why I need to march across a stage in a black robe to symbolize this achievement. I would prefer to just receive the piece of paper in some less dramatic spectacle.

Maybe someone could deliver my diploma to my home and we could have a party there afterwards. The meaning of the whole “ceremony” thing is lost on me. What does it even mean when we walk across the stage in a black gown, and put those little tassels from one side of the cap to the other? In fact, why do we even wear a cap? Or a gown?

I realize there is some historical reason which has to do with the first ever university commencement at Oxford or something like that. However, this has nothing to do with me or my life. I don’t understand why the majority of people seem to perpetuate traditions because “that’s how it’s done.” I understand some people celebrate religious traditions for this reason. However, most of those people do it because it’s what they choose and what feels right to them. I don’t think shaking president Holmgren’s hand and smiling for pictures will have the same spiritual feeling as taking communion, for example.

It seems like there could be so many other ways to celebrate this type of event. Maybe a ceremonial cleansing swim in the ocean or something. A bonfire/cupcake celebration where I burn all of my notes for classes I didn’t want to take. I mean, this is what I feel might feel the best for me—it wouldn’t be the same for everyone else. I want to make a change so that people celebrate their important life transitions exactly how they want to. The point is—it’s your day to celebrate, so why not do exactly what you want to?

However, I’m looking forward school ending. I’m looking forward to seeing my classmates at the various parties and gatherings that will represent the culmination of these last four years of my life. Plus, my mom will be so happy when she gets to take that snapshot of me in my black robe, walking across the stage.


Nicole Maria Vermeer is a senior who will be graduating with a major in English and a minor in Environmental Science this Saturday. When she is not Millsing around, she enjoys being outside and drinking tea with milk and sugar, preferably at the same time.

She owns too many dresses, and one Mills sweater, but doesn’t wear it very often.


For more related posts, check out our Commencement page.


Graduation is fun for everyone — well, mostly just my mother was published on May 8, 2011 in Column, Commencement, Opinions

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