Graduating Pleasures

‘Tis the season for graduations to gradually appear across the tertiary landscape a little like the burst of flowers in early spring. Graduands appear dressed in their splendour, family groups arrive seriously intent to support Mums, Dads, Siblings, Children of all sizes, Grandparents and so on. It is a seriously significant occasion Sunday-Best occasion.

These events and those people should never be taken lightly for they are changing the futures of communities as each batch of first-generation tertiary students flood into communities to leave a determination that the young ones, spectators on these occasions, can have opportunities to see higher education as an attainable goal – one day they will cross the stage. If Brother Sione, Sister Susan, Mums and Dads and other family members can do it – so can we.

I love graduations. The huge efforts made to get to the finish line of qualifications – a promise of a future that perhaps were thought of as a feint and distant rosy glow of Shangri La, are within the grasp of not just students, but also of their families. It is not simply to get a job but the start of many careers.

In my career I have been responsible for managing graduations leading teams that work hard in the background to get these shows on the road! Over this time, I have been at over a hundred graduations, perhaps more. The largest number of these have been in South Auckland and I have always thought that they work, not just to anoint, as graduates, those who walk across the stage in the time-fashioned manner to receive their accolade, but they are changing communities. I have been at graduations at many New Zealand institutions, at some Australian graduations and had the pleasure to attend graduations in Pacific Island countries.

No matter where or what the awards were, there is always one outstanding feature and that is the pride with which graduands present themselves to become graduates, and the huge pride with which families greet their freshly Graduated family members back into the family – the same but different.

Some time ago I graduated at Massey University and on that occasion received the highest award bestowed that day. That led to my leading the student procession down through the main street of Palmerston North. Did I feel proud – yes, it took me back many years earlier when I graduated with my twin brother, new first-in-family members of the family and the brand-new university that was Waikato University. Going to university was never in our plans – but that is another story.

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