Monday, December 16, 2013

Bah humbug? Not at commencement

 By John D. Bland

I was driving in to work at the University’s commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon and, frankly, I had an attitude problem. The day was dark and cold and the rain was coming in torrents the closer I got to campus. Traffic was snarled half a mile from the front entrance, so by the time I slipped in the back way, I had to park far from the Barnhart Student Activities Center and walk a couple hundred yards in the downpour. And for what? All I was required to do was sit and watch, and attend to any reporters that might show up from the media (none did; Winter commencement isn’t a big story for them).

But then something happened; I got inside the arena, surrounded by more than 3,400 graduating 49ers, thousands of their family and friends, and hundreds of participating faculty and staff. Even before the students and professors filed in in their robes, the arena was humming with anticipation from the guests; staffers were striding around and talking on walkie-talkies, taking care of business. Photos were sliding across the Jumbotron. Finally the student orchestra filled the air with the processional and the show was on.

I was smiling.

I’ve worked these gigs many times during the last eight years and try as I might to approach it as ho-hum business as usual, commencement always makes me happy and proud; proud of the graduates who have completed their hard slog to a degree, proud of the long-suffering family members, proud of the stalwart faculty, proud even of my colleagues who help keep the University operating day to day.

By the time I left the arena, I was beaming and refreshed. Thanks, Class of 2013!

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John Bland is director of public relations.

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