It was one of the amazing feelings I have ever felt. I was so happy, yet so nervous. It was the satisfying culmination of all the accomplishments I made. I was grateful to God for every moment, everything leading up to it and everything after it. All the people I met, old and new. We celebrated all that we’ve learned. I hope for the best for the future. ‘
The future of that moment is where I am now. I was describing my graduation from the University of Texas in Austin just over 3 weeks ago. I want to tell some of the stories of the weekend and how that compares to now. Why I am writing this a little later is not a result of busyness, but rather recalling all that happened will help me deal with the mellow transition time that I’m in now and make it worth while just like my graduation. I have separated the weekend into two posts, this is the first one. The second one can be found by clicking this sentence when it’s finished. If there’s no link, I should be working on it.
My Testimony for the Greater Glory of God
On the days leading up to my graduation, I was not doing much. I had to ask my family to stay in Austin for three days and two nights. It was hard, because I initially asked for just the Friday of the Cockrell School of Engineering commencement, then Saturday for the university-wide commencement, and finally Sunday for the Baccalaureate Mass at the University Catholic Center.
A day or two before the Engineering ceremony, I decided to decorate my graduation cap. It’s not mandatory, but it helps to express your personality in your accomplishments. It also makes it easier for your family and friends attending the ceremony to spot you in the crowd of graduates. I have joked about wanting to put Phineas and Ferb on my hat previously, but I didn’t do that. I decided to focus on some of the things that have been a part of my journey. The most prominent is the the University Catholic Center logo. I believe that recognizing how God has allowed me to find a home there and a community I adore is one of the most important things about my college journey. I put UT Catholic, as I’m proud to be a Catholic in a secular college. I put “B.S.C.E.”, as it stands for my degree “Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. I put a Longhorn for my love of the school that has given me a valuable education from my first Architecture class to my last Civil Engineering classes and everything in between. I chose a sky blue background as it is my favorite color, reminds me of the Virgin Mary, and stands out in the crowd of black hats. I put a excerpt of a bible passage on the hat I believe serves as a summary of my journey and also reminds me of all that I have done for the glory of God. I wrote on the hat “2 Timothy 1:6-8,” which is the bible verses below.
“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God “-2 Timothy 1:6-8
These three verses remind me of my testimony and journey through college and life. I remember the first verse from my confirmation formation. It reminds of the gift of the Holy Spirit given at Confirmation, and how that gift has transformed my life with my involvement in the Catholic Center and organizations like Longhorn Awakening, which does semiannual retreats for college students, and STRONG, which does retreats for middle school and high school students, most of which are Confirmation retreats. The second verse was given to me via a friend, Jonathan, who gave me this verse during Ignite Texas as an affirmation. Ignite Texas was a non-denominational Christian summer camp retreat for freshmen before school started. I was a conseulor that year. He was the camp co-chair for our group, which was “Camp Zenon,” as the theme was Disney Channel movies. He was giving all the counselors verses that summarize who God made them to be and something that described them. 2 Timothy 1:7 was my verse. It described how I much love I give and receive and how controlled I am in it all. I am grateful that gift of the Holy Spirit. By this verse, I’m reminded of Ignite, and how I love and serve others. The last verse shows the trials I have faced. I had to transition from Architecture, a difficult major that didn’t suit me, to Civil Engineering, another difficult major that does suit me. I also had to step up and give a talk on Longhorn Awakening, to tell my testimony of my faith and how my family and my community has built it up. I also had to talk about my part in the community and how we are all called to be part of the Mystical Body of Christ.That verse was for every time I had to step up, remind myself and others where it all came from, God, until I walked across the stage and afterwards.
The last thing I put on my cap was a clarinet. I was also done with the cap when I went to dinner with a friend I met in Pep Band, John. I brought up the cap in conversation and showed in a picture of the current progress. I wanted to add something else, and he suggested something related to Pep Band as it is a significant part of my journey. I added a clarinet for that reason.
Something I feel is missing is something relating to my Autism. I could’ve put a rainbow infinity symbol for autism, but I decided against it because of all the other things on the cap. I look at the somewhat shabbiness of the cap as it is held on by tape and yet I think of it as a good representation of me. That’s it. Autism has been a part of my journey as the way I express myself, indirectly or directly. It should not matter how clear it is, but the character of the cap describes my character as an Autistic. It is a part of me and expressed in every part from my degree, my involvements in organizations and how the Holy Spirit works in me. After my cap was decorated, I was somewhat ready to graduate.
Friday: Crossing the Stage
On Friday, I had a few things planned before I crossed the stage that night. I wanted to go a few of my friends’s commencement ceremonies throughout the weekend. Of course I was stressed, but I remember what my friend Jeremy said the day before. He reminded me I wasn’t Superman and I can’t do everything. We can try to do as much as we can and that’s fine. We had to graduate too. I went to the College of Liberal Arts commencement at the Frank Erwin Center to see my friends Roberto and Jolyssa graduate in the morning. I con-grad-ulated my friends way up in the nosebleed seats of the basketball arena with some of my other friends from the Catholic Center. (You see what I did there.) I met up with the fellow graduates for pictures.
Then I decided to go with Fr. Jimmy, Andres, and Luke,so we could get lunch. I had to get my regalia at my apartment. and meet up with my parents at the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering department reception. I initially didn’t know how I was going to get home, but I asked to go with my friends, so I can get transportation back to my apartment. We got lunch at Foodheads on W. 34th Street. (10/10 I would recommend.) Then I picked up my regalia from my apartment, and drove over to the reception to meet up with my family.
My family wasn’t there immediately, so I nervously waited for them. The reception had free finger foods and sides, but I could barely eat because I had a late lunch before the reception. I thought I was not going to get food again before graduation, so I tried to have something. My family soon came from their hotel to meet up with me. We grabbed some food there to hold us over because it was around 5 pm, I had to be at the Frank Erwin Center for the Engineering commencement at 6pm. The actual ceremony started at 7pm. We took some pictures at the reception. We also meet up with the department chair Dr. Gilbert before we left. I took some food to go, so I couldn’t shake his hand, but he told I’ll be doing that in a few hours on stage. So, this continues the running gag in my life where I had awkward or improper handshake with Dr. Gilbert before a proper handshake.
My family then had to drop me off at the Frank Erwin Center before 6 pm. The doors opened at 6pm, but I got there about 15-30 minutes early, so I had to wait outside. I met up with some friends while waiting outside in the unbearable heat. We couldn’t believe that it was finally here. There was excitement and nerves all around. Then the doors opened and we went inside. We had to fill out forms for the photographer, pick up our name card with the preferred pronunciations and then wait in a crowded room by major and degree. We weren’t sorted by last name, so when we went to walk across the stage we would have our name called out.
I had ran into lots of people of my friends include some friends from my first Civil Engineering class, CE 301, to all of my American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and every other engineer I knew. I even saw some of my old campers from Ignite. We talked a little about graduating, different caps , cords, and stoles.
After waiting for almost an hour inside, the guides lead us out of the room. We walked around thee halls I had walked in the basketball arena during Pep Band one last time. Then, we got out into the arena floor. I heard a multitude of cheers from the families and friends of the graduates. I told my parents to text me where they were going to sit, but I forgot to look at my phone until I got out. I looked at my phone, and then found my family on the left side of the arena, 3/4 of the way up. I waved at them. I tried to find my friends, but I got lost in the noise.
Then we sat down and the ceremony began. The Dean of Engineering, Dr. Sharon introduced all the department chairs and professors present. Then, our commencement speaker, Jimmy Canning. He worked for ExxonMobil, donated to the engineering school, and spoke in some classes. He had a B.S in Civil Engineering from UT. He spoke about something that he learned from Scouting that applied to us graduates, that we are called to leave a place better than we found it. This was to be done by making a difference in people’s lives, even if it only makes a small difference for at least one person. It was very relevant advice, and I, an Eagle Scout, liked it came from being a fellow Scouter.
Then, we had the graduates come up at walk across the stage. They started with the Doctoral and Master’s Degrees in different types of engineering. After that, they took the Bachelor degree candidates by department alphabetically starting with Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. They put the photo order in a box, gave a name card to the announcer. As their name is announced, they walk across the stage, shake the Dean’s hand and grab an envelope representing the diploma which comes in the mail a few weeks later.
I cheered anyone I recognized, including my friend Sam from my old dorm Moore-Hill and the UCC. Then the Biomedical Engineers went up and i cheered for Steffy, my table partner from Longhorn Awakening. Then, the Chemical Engineers went up. When my friend David Dean went up, I cheered for him. I heard cheers from the right side of the bleachers and saw Luke, Andres and some of my UCC friends cheering. Then, it was the department of the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering’s turn. It was our turn to go up.
I kept thinking about how I should walk across the stage, as some people dance, show off, and others just smile and walk across. I kept on thinking of this moment as its importance to how much God has been in my life, thankful to him for everything. I was nervous, but certain my walk was for what He has done in my life, no matter how the walk went.
They started to announce the Architectural Engineering candidates when a few names in, they realized that the Architectural Engineering candidates where placed behind the Civil Engineering candidates instead of in front. Then my friends and I began to process up row by row to the stage. I had cheered for any friends I recognized. As I waited near the stage, I probably screamed a little too loud for my friend Jeremy as he walked across the stage. I kept doing the Sign of the Cross and praying anxiously as I waited. I saw the routine of handshakes and paper grabs I needed in order to do it right just in case I get too much stage fright.
After a few more people passed the stage, it was my turn. I gave the announcer my namecard. The announcer called out my name , “Andrew Steven Maynard.” I smiled and threw a Hook ’em Horns sign. I was so happy and anxious. It was really amazing. I heard so much cheering I couldn’t remember where it was from. I walked across the stage. I shook the dean’s right hand and grabbed the envelope from her left hand. I finally shook the hand of Dr. Gilbert. He said, “Good job….” and gave me a pat on the back. I posed for a few pictures while getting off the stage. While walking back. my parents tried to take a picture of me heading back, but I was holding up the line. I sat down was a feeling of satisfaction.
I turned the page,
I told my story.
I crossed the stage,
Proclaimed His Glory.
I congratulated more of my engineering friends as we continued on inclduing Tony in Architectural Engineering, Adolfo, Robert and Joe in Mechanical Engineering. Finally, the ceremony was almost over after 2 and half hours. Then the Dean brought and congratulated some past graduates with awards. Then after all of that, we moved our tassels from the right to left. We graduated. They instructed us to come to the university-wide commencement the next day at the UT Tower.
After the 3 hour long ceremony ended, we processed out of the arena to outside where it was dark. We tried to get some of my UCC friends for a picture. After gathering in the street for a while, we walked over to the UT Medical Center, where my family wanted to meet up. I met up with my family, took pictures. I told them it was amazing feeling walking the stage.
Then most of my friends came and we all took pictures and talked about the experience. Once we were done, it was very late. I got my parents to drive me home to my apartment. I took a shower, got ready for bed. After I got into bed, my stomach started to ache. I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten since the ceremony.. Somehow I felt tired enough to sleep, but it was still excited and nervous for the next day.
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The Nerd of May