Posts Tagged ‘Graduation’

Go Forth, And?

Posted: May 15, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

My niece and goddaughter, Mary is graduating from Notre Dame this Sunday with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry. Sadly, I can’t attend the ceremony because Notre Dame takes commencement as seriously as football. There are no extra tickets; there are no extra hotel rooms. It will be a spectacle, as it should be.

I was in college when my niece was born. I remember being delighted that my sister, Margo, and her husband, Mark, chose me to be Mary’s godmother.

I think I’ve done what I can to shape Mary’s life in a positive way, and I know she has done the same for me. In the twenty years since my college graduation (yup), I have experienced many, many things. I won’t bother to categorize them. Life experiences do not line up in neat rows, though advice can.


Christmas gifts 2015, books (tradition) on life after college!

Because I love my niece, and I am immensely proud of her accomplishment, and that of so many other young college students who worked hard to achieve their educational goals, I shall enter into the tradition of passing on wisdom as part of the rites of the commencement season.

I have a fair amount of experience in these matters. I attend two college graduations each year in my capacity as a professor here at good ol’ RMU. It is always an incredibly special day for the graduates, and I am eager to hear (and critique) the commencement address because I like the genre (see my post from last year), and I believe in education, and rituals, and getting dressed up only to have to wait patiently for something to begin.

So, as my smart, sweet, spectacular niece graduates, and begins, in earnest, her long voyage through adulthood, I’d like to offer her advice, as an honest attempt to impart something valuable.

Your Professional Life

Work is at the core of everything. Tying your shoes is work. Doing so requires preparation, learning, effort, repetition, mastery, and it is a skill that we will lose in the end, each of us reduced to Velcro shoes and meandering down lonely halls. Sunny, I know. Be grateful for what you know and use it while you can.

The work we all do enriches our lives. Do work you can be proud of, and create a positive, productive relationship with both the work you want to do and you must do.

Whatever your profession, cultivate teamwork. Collaborate, cooperate. Get and be inspired. If a colleague (or two) irritates you, consider why. Is this person’s unpleasant behavior something you can avoid? If he is petty, his choices should remind you to act with generosity. If she is unreliable, take the cue to be trustworthy. All flaws are opportunities for growth.

As far as salary: ask for more. Counter the initial offer. Establish a sense of your worth and negotiate for a higher starting pay, as all percentage increases arise from this original number.passion

Your Passionate Life

Bring passion to your daily life in any way possible. Engaging in activities you adore, and doing these things with love is a tremendous gift..

Do things that make you keenly aware of the unassailable life within and around you, dance, shout, paint, hike, play.

Develop passionate connections with others. Be glad of heartbreak, for those who repress or suppress their feelings live not nearly so well.

Love with abandon.

Your Daily Life

Life can become suffused with seemingly mindless routines. Certain things need to be done. I offer you what I consider to be among the best of the conclusions I have come to in life. Every time you find yourself thinking that you “have to” do something, pause and contemplate this: you “get to” as well.

Consider, we all “have to” wash the dishes.

We also “get to” wash the dishes.

We are granted the opportunity to wash dishes through a remarkable array of good fortune. In order to wash dishes, we must have food, access to water, a home in which we can cook and eat, and, often, people we love to cook for. Herein lies the great mystery of day to day contentment; embrace the magnificence of the mundane moments.

Your Inner Life

Expend considerable effort developing your spirit, which is the combination of your unique, authentic self and the inner resources necessary to survive when faced when difficulties and thrive when offered opportunities.

The surest way to build your spirit is to be as honest with yourself as possible. Address your demons; catalog your fears. They exist, so get acquainted.

The only other thing you can do is feed your inner well in the ways that make the most sense to you—often through interaction with something bigger, more extraordinary than you are. Connecting with the world, through the infinite and infinitesimal wonders of nature or the joys of other people, seems to be the only effective means of alleviating the pain that accompanies living.

Your Own Life

Do not waiver in your sacred duty to yourself. Do what you will, make mistakes. Attempting to avoid making a mistake is just another mistake to make. Life will not last. Years take wing. Do what you can each day to enjoy your one and only life: savor it.

Above all else, make life something you are proud to call your own.


By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

Robert Morris University’s Fall graduation was this past weekend at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. As is our tradition, the faculty, staff, and administrators proceed backstage after the ceremony and form two lines. The students then walk between the lines and have the opportunity to celebrate with us before they go find their family and friends.

It’s like an academic soul train line. Don Cornelius would either be proud or horrified.

Love, Peace, and Soul.

Love, Peace, and Soul.

This is, without a doubt, my favorite part of every graduation. I love seeing how excited the students are to have reached this moment. After watching the seniors trudge around campus for months – exhausted, stressed, and wearing whatever happened to be clean – they are now wearing their best clothes and biggest smiles.

Selfishly, I stand by hoping that I will get lots of handshakes and hugs from my students. While this is their day, this moment also tells me a bit about myself. Some students can be effusive with their love (or hatred) of a teacher; other students are coy about their feelings. There have been times when a student has run up to me in that line and given me a bearhug and thanked me for everything, and that was the first hint that I had any impact on that student at all. The lineup can be a nice indicator that I’m doing something right as a teacher.

Superficially, hugs and handshakes are also like graduation day Facebook ‘LIKES’ and I totally want more ‘LIKES’ than all the other professors!

And if the day comes that I’m the only teacher at the university, I’ll finally win.

Graduation is a bittersweet moment, though. I’ve worked with and known some of these students for years are they are now leaving the nest. Except in rare cases, I won’t be working with or even seeing them again. I’ve considered failing some students just so they could hang out longer, but that wouldn’t be ethical.

One graduate or another will pop into mind during a normal workweek, and I’ll be curious about what that student is doing now. With social media, I suppose it’s technically possible for faculty to keep up with lots of alums, but that’s impractical…and possibly creepy.

Plus, the sweet sorrow of commencement is offset by a new crop of interesting students and stories right around the corner. Just as one set of relationships end, a whole batch is about to begin. That certainly adds excitement and spontaneity to my profession.

Congratulations to all of the graduates! Come back, visit, tell us about the amazing things you accomplish.

And to current students, remember to shake my hand or hug me on that big day. My fragile ego needs it.

RMU Graduation! (About an hour before the ceremony started.)

RMU Graduation! (About an hour before the ceremony started.)