Saturday, May 01, 2010

Spring Commencement 2010

I set the alarm for 5:45am this morning, even though it’s Saturday. I knew I would need to take care of the dog, take a quick shower, and get ready to bike down to the stadium this morning to hear the President of the United States give the commencement address I didn’t get when I actually graduated 5 years ago. Unfortunately, as I walked the dog, the lightening and thunder began, and biking seemed like an increasingly less tenable option. A quick text to Ashley, in whose apartment we were planning to leave our bikes, and I confirmed that we could also park the car there and put off braving the rain a bit longer. After some tea and banana bread at Ashley’s (you are amazing Ashley!), we headed out to stand in line to get into Michigan Stadium.

Though I was expecting a TSA-like security nightmare, the lines moved quickly and the Secret Service Police were nice – quick, efficient, and didn’t say much, but nice.

Once through security, we headed toward our seats. Our tickets were for Section 30, Rows 21-68, and we had no idea what to expect inside. Thankfully (as it was still a little before 8am, with commencement starting at 11am), we were able to get great seats in Row 23, which offered a nice view of everything that was going on. In order to entertain the early arrivers, there were a variety of musical acts (of varying quality), pop music over the loud speakers, and puppets making their way around the stadium.

Somehow it didn’t feel like 3 hours just sitting there. (I did get up once to go to the bathroom, which was also a surprisingly quick and easy endeavor.)

While we sat, we noticed the snipers. This gave me an opportunity to use, for what I think was the first time, the full capacity of the zoom lens I have on my camera. There were two teams of them, one on top of each side of the stadium. I couldn’t decide whether they made me feel safer or not.

Once the ceremony got started, it was pretty exciting. I adore Mary Sue Coleman, our esteemed president, and was excited that Jennifer Granholm would also speak. Unfortunately, I felt like she veered more toward the partisan and political, and spent most of her speech praising President Obama rather than inspiring the new graduates. I agreed with the things she said, but was hoping for more reflection than I heard. Then came President Obama…

When I was at the inauguration I could see a long series of jumbotrons, but not the president himself. (There were also jumbotrons in the stadium...)

I also found his speech to be an odd choice for a commencement address (text here), but his message to be kind to others, to seek information and learning rather than jumping to insult the other side, and to consider the middle ground was a good one. When all was said and done, I was glad to have attended, and am hoping that someone as interesting will speak at my graduation in a few years.

You can watch the full ceremony here.

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