Commencement is my favorite event of the school year. I love the pageantry—the college band playing Pomp and Circumstance, the choir, the regalia (royal blue stripes on my gown’s sleeves and a flaming red hood courtesy of Texas Tech).
My favorite part is the processional, where faculty line the aisle while graduates walk between us. I’ll look for my students, whose expressions will say it all: relief, pride, hope.
But tomorrow I expect to see more than the class of 2016. During my last commencement, I’m looking for some shadowy figures to show up. Call them the ghosts of graduations past.
Brandon will be there—Brandon who wrote papers about fish, who majored in Fisheries Management at Texas A&M and who went on to work for the New Mexico Department of Fish and Game.
Ditto for Adriel, who wrote papers about jets and now pilots one for the Air Force.
And Lexi and Aletha, who now, like their former prof, teach English.
And I’m sure my mind’s eye will see dozens of Finishers, those amazing students who made dreams come true for themselves and others—and who made my last years at AC my best years at AC.
So if you catch me smiling at empty spaces on Friday night, it’s not senility (really); it’s nostalgia.