Dear Friends:

As we close out this graduation season, I am in awe of the way communities have come together to honor the graduates. From posters and billboards to drive-by neighborhood parties, families showed love. However expressed, it feels really good to be honored and recognized for the accomplishment just completed, and I love that we have tried to ensure graduates feel that love.

I am going to let you in on a little secret: as much as I love pomp and circumstance, I only attended two of my four University Graduations. I have not stated this until now, nor spent much time contemplating why I chose not to participate. After I attended my first University graduation I felt it overrated. I did not feel special. There were several thousand students, and thus you were not recognized individually. So, I skipped the next two because what I really wanted was that feeling of being connected to classmates, being called out by leaders for a job well done and celebration from my family.

If I am honest, I think the family and friends celebration is the best part. And that is agnostic to place. Regardless of whether
we are gathered on a lawn, or socially distant in cars, it comes down to how we make our graduates feel. Let your graduate know how much you see and appreciate what they have accomplished. I guarantee you, they will miss the actual graduation exercise a lot less.

How did you celebrate or what ideas do you have for celebrations?

Dr. Lisa

PS: Your theme song has to be “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar.
PPS: Don’t hesitate to put on the cap and gown and march around. Ya might tear up. Gets me every time!


Comments 4

  1. lmnichol13
    June 15, 2020

    Hi Lisa,

    As you know, my son graduated from Western Carolina University this year. They “postponed” their graduation and recently announced the ceremony to be in December of this year along with those that finish in the fall semester. I don’t know where he’ll be then, but I’m doubtful he’ll want to attend (can’t blame him!).

    He was recently home for a short time before he started his summer job, so we had a small family get together at my home. It was great to see him, my family, and we treated him like the superstar he is! His favorite foods, ice cream, etc. All good!

    It was a tough semester for him; not keen on school in general and very tough to stay motivated to finish with virtual classes. I checked in with him more than I normally would have, hoping it helped him realize we believe in him. He made it, we just received his diploma, it’s official!

    A strange time indeed. I’m glad he lived off campus and was able to enjoy the time with his buddies while in quarantine! We celebrated with him when he was home-I think he enjoyed us celebrating his accomplishments.

    Congrats to all the 2020 graduates!

    1. Dr. Lisa Toppin
      June 22, 2020

      Wow, way to pay attention mom. He needed your extra support and he got it done. I am so happy for him and for you! What we can overlook is how much the celebrators miss the opportunity to celebrate. I am so glad you got to celebrate him.

  2. AimeeB28078
    June 11, 2020

    Hi Lisa!
    I recently completed my MBA at the University of South Carolina. Initially, all ceremonies were postponed. However, they ended up holding a virtual Master’s ceremony in early May. It was nice to have something, but it really fell flat for me. The only person able to ‘attend’ with me was my husband and he was working so he only was able to come over for a few minutes while they announced my name. We aren’t able to have a party with family members that would have to travel to attend.
    I announced it on Facebook and received many heartfelt congratulations but only received one card. Had an actual ceremony occurred I believe the acknowledgment from friends and family would have been greater.
    The school tentatively planned to have an in-person Business School graduation event in early August but has since changed it to virtual. I don’t plan to attend as I don’t believe it will increase my feeling of accomplishment in any measurable way. I purchased a diploma frame with a spot for a picture in graduation regalia and tassel but we did not receive a cap and gown, nor a tassel.
    I had really looked forward to the in-person Master’s Hooding ceremony as it is a more intimate celebration than the huge Business School graduation. I understand we’re in unprecedented times and everyone’s health is of utmost importance but personally, it doesn’t feel like this huge accomplishment actually even happened.
    I welcome any thoughts on how to make this feel more real and tangible, if that’s even possible right now…

    1. Dr. Lisa Toppin
      June 22, 2020

      I totally get it. The tough part is that sometimes our community doesn’t know how much we need to mark the milestone. When I graduated, I planned my party. I scheduled a breakfast. Everyone came. I took a moment to enter the breakfast (kinda like a wedding) in my cap and gown and the 30 people there cheered! I think they weren’t expecting the gap and gown and so it was a joyous moment. Plan your party. It may need to be a drive by parade but your folks will show up for you with cards and all! And I would recommend purchasing the cap and gown. I still have mine! Go all the way in! This is your milestone and a big one. Think of it like planning your 40th birthday party. Plan your fun and lean in all the way!

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