A “Revisited” blog post indicates that I reread the original and used AI-assisted tools (e.g., Grammarly) to improve grammar and word choice. For example, Grammarly identified 51 issues in my original piece that it “felt” needed my further attention. In 50 of the cases, I concurred. Originally published May 11, 2019.
As is my habit of the four decades, I am reflecting in my office on this morning of Commencement. I drive in early to ensure getting a parking place before the proud families start arriving. Even at this early hour, Carroll staff and administrators are working (unheralded) to make this campus even more beautiful and welcoming for families on this special day. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, babies, babies-soon-to-join-the world—-the campus explodes with sounds, colors, emotions, and celebratory chaos. Often I walk around campus taking photos (or accepting an invitation to be photographed).
I don’t know this year’s senior class as well as I used to know them when I taught five or six different courses which drew freshmen through seniors. I have been a one-trick grey mare teaching Statistics and Experimental Design these last few years. But every Commencement is unique, and this one, I graduate with the seniors!
My Carroll lifetime friend and business partner, Greg Schneider, shared William Bridge’s “Transition Framework,” which I find pretty relevant today. There are “Endings,” a “Neutral Zone,” and “New Beginnings.”
Endings involve disengagement, disidentification, disenchantment, and disillusionment. Still, with time, one reacts to an end, realizes that one is headed to the neutral zone, and finds new sources of stability and guidance that help one through the transition.
The “neutral zone” is characterized by confusion, resolution, and bipolar reactions. Moving through it involves embracing it, finding a regular time to reflect, and reviewing one’s life as one puts the past in context to move on.
New beginnings involve understanding, acceptance, hope, and fondness – taking bold further actions as one tests adjustments in one’s life. Helping others struggling with the transition is in itself healing. Thank you, Greg, for this guidance and support over the years.
A Carroll student asked if he could sit in on my last lecture. Alas, Antonio, I am still writing it, but here are my unfinished notes.
- Be authentic
- Be sincere
- Be kind
- Be charitable
- Be generous
- Be open-minded
- Be resilient
- Be reflective
- Be attentive
- Be playful
- Be courageous
- Be …
My emotions are mixed—not unlike that of the soon-to-be-graduates. Joy—sorrow—elation—sadness—weariness—rejuvenation. At the end of the day — emptiness and some poignant, positive residual reminders. I often tease my graduating research assistants that upon their exit from campus, I “exorcise” our shared office space to allow better me to adjust to the temporary emotional vacuum caused by their absence from “Dr. David’s Neighborhood.” When you graduate, you will remain in my memories as I have come to know you—and forever at that age! Forever young.
My sitting on the stage has liabilities as I’ll feel I must behave uncharacteristically well-mannered!
Each Carroll Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremony is special to me, as is each student I have gotten to know. I have chosen (or been called) to teach and to learn, and though they (you) may not realize it, I genuinely do learn so much from my students and from the challenges of trying to teach them well.
Thank you, graduating seniors past and present (and for a few ever so short years future), for all YOU have taught me. Put to suitable use your talents, energy, playfulness, empathy, resilience, and creative ideas to make the world a better place. Come to appreciate (as I did upon graduating from Oberlin College in 1971) that you have been privileged to receive a good education due not only to your sacrifices and hard work but also to the many members of the larger community whom you may never have met or whom you took for granted:
Trustees, Administration, Staff, Faculty, and Alumni who sincerely care about you.
I hear the sound of bagpipes and the bells call me.