Grads should be proud to walk at commencement

Grads should be proud to walk at commencement

Story by Briana Gruenewald

On May 21, 2011, I’ll be joining the ranks of UW-Eau Claire alumni. During the commencement ceremony to recognize my past four years at this university, I’ll be celebrating the hard work and commitment I’ve made as a Blugold.

Now, I was quite surprised a few weeks ago when I was talking about graduation with some of my peers. I was the only one in a group of four who was certain I would be walking at commencement. Everyone else was either unsure or dead set on not walking.

In high school, at least at mine, walking in the graduation ceremony was a given. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that walking and receiving a diploma was the cherry on top of the bittersweet sundae that was our secondary education journey.

College students seem to sing a different tune. The opinions I’ve heard in opposition to walking are “I’ve already sat through my high school graduation,” “I don’t have anyone to walk for,” and “I’m not even going to pursue a career in the field my degree is for.”

Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a sentimentalist, but I think walking at the undergrad commencement ceremony is something us grads owe to ourselves. I’ll admit that I’m not too keen on my ceremony being at 9 a.m. But I think the pros outweigh the cons in this situation. And the three aforementioned opinions, I feel the need to counteract them.

The typical graduate has put in four years at this university and taken classes that amount to at least 120 credits. That alone is no measly feat. Think of the papers you’ve toiled over, the presentations you’ve spent hours perfecting and the group projects you had to coordinate around multiple schedules.

High school and college are like comparing apples to oranges. The workload and accountability among the two institutions are completely dissimilar. So, I can almost guarantee that the undergrad ceremony is going to be different from anyone’s high school ceremony. While the structure might be alike, the emotions it will evoke will differ, seeing as we’re all embarking on “real life” now.

As for having no one to walk for, how about YOURSELF?! No one knows the struggles and successes you’ve faced during your undergrad experience better than you! You are the most important person in your life, you owe it to yourself.

For me, I would have never made it through this experience without the financial and emotional support of my parents. And while I’m walking for them to an extent, it’s mainly for me.

Finally, earning a bachelor’s degree is an achievement that not everyone has the privilege of attaining. And these days, more than ever, having a degree in any field is going to benefit you in the search for a job. So, if you’ve changed your mind in regard to your career path, but didn’t want to change your major, it’s still going to be an advantage to you in the long run.

Of course, applying for jobs related to your degree is most ideal. However, defending your reasons for choosing a job unrelated to your degree is going to be secondary to the fact that your degree reflects dedication, follow-through and a strong work ethic.

Without sounding preachy, I think all graduates owe it to themselves to listen to peers speak, walk across that stage, shake the chancellor’s hand and physically hold that (empty) diploma. If not, you may regret it 10 years down the road.