Let me begin by stating how proud I am of my husband for completing his Ph.D. in Anthropology!!! Done baby, done!
Many of us are familiar with celebrating high school and university graduations, but when you start getting to the advanced degrees the line that marks when you are done can be tricky to find. Dave and I both earned our doctorates (how cool is that to say!) from Binghamton University, State University of New York. At Binghamton University the completion date of your doctoral degree is when you have a public presentation to “defend” your dissertation. This date can happen any time during the year, as long as you are done and your committee can attend. So not only does your degree often finish at a random point on the calendar, it is also a singular accomplishment… meaning that you are not completing with anyone else and certainly not with a class of hundreds of fellow students.
I remember leaving my defense feeling elated about having passed that hurdle, stepping outside of the Science 1 building and looking around to seeing life continuing for everyone else as if nothing had happened. The same students rushing to class already late, the same fervent clutching of coffee mugs, the same professors avoiding eye contact with students so no one asks them if the exams are graded yet… My entire universe had just changed, but the rest of the university trucked on as if nothing had happened. I wanted a parade. I wanted acrobats flipping down the pathways, people blowing fire from the library fountain, fireworks from the clock tower, and sparklers for every single person on campus. Alas, all I got was tepid coffee from an indifferent barista who was studying her note cards furiously behind the counter.
So when Dave was finishing his dissertation I started dreaming about how we’d celebrate his incredible accomplishment. Needless to say that I was dreaming big, and when the actual date came around I had to seriously scale myself back based on budget (sorry, no acrobats) and my available time (aka how to I pull off a great party with the time available to a stay-at-home mom with a young child… aka not a lot of “free” time). A number of my ideas had to fall by the wayside, but I think I was able to pull off my main goal of truly honoring all of Dave’s hard work.
I was not the only one wanting to celebrate Dave’s graduation, and the lucky boy was also honored with a party at his family’s home. The two parties were a week apart and were completely different from each other except for the fact that they were both filled with people who wanted to celebrate Dave. He’s going to be impossible to live with after receiving weeks of unbridled praise! 😉 Just kidding. He deserved every word and more… but I digress.
We had such a great time at both parties. Some of my favorite parts of Dave’s Family’s party were the special things they made by hand. They made amazing construction paper graduation caps for everyone to wear, hand decorated graduation cap cookies, and had two young women to play with the kids and do crafts downstairs allowing the parents to be adults upstairs. It was fantastic!
We were also able to hold our own Hooding Ceremony. In a traditional doctoral graduation ceremony the graduate is “hooded” with the special colors of your degree by a mentor or advisor of your choice. This is a leveling of the playing field, and a very special moment of being brought into the professional field that you have worked so hard to attain. Since we couldn’t get out to New York for Dave’s graduation, we held our own hooding ceremony at his party and it was my honor to be able to hood Dave.
I know that I’ve been teasing people with promising to post recipes from our Vancouver Island party on this blog, but I had to share the New West party first. Stay tuned and the next post will start the recipes, I promise. But first… Sometimes we get so wrapped up with our own ideas of what our graduations mean to us personally that we forget about all that our families and loved ones have invested in the graduation as well. This graduation for Dave coincided with his return to Canada as a university professor, a husband and a dad. A lot has changed since Dave first left for graduate school in New York. The party in New West was an amazing time to also honor Dave’s family and their own achievement in getting their son/brother graduated. Cheers to all you Hopwoods!