Graduation Weekend, Part 2

Hello, again!

I don’t like long posts more than anyone else, so here’s the rest of the weekend. I’m sorry if I made you wait. If you are wondering what’s on my graduation cap or what happened on Friday, click this link.

Saturday Morning and Afternoon: Too Many Ceremonies

On Saturday morning at 8 am, I planned on attending my friends Tara, Caiti, Daniella, and Camille’s graduation. I wanted to go to 3 ceremonies that day: two of them were of the College of Natural Sciences, (CNS) and the last one was the University-wide commencement. Luckily, the two CNS commencements I planned on going were in the Frank Erwin Center like the Cockrell School of Engineering’s commencements. There were three CNS ceremonies, one at 8 am, one at noon and one at 3:30pm. I wanted to go the one at 8 am and the one at 3:30pm.

After a late night going to bed hungry after 11pm, I woke up for the 8am ceremony, tried. I got ready. My friend Kamea picked me up with Luke and we got Gianeen. Then we met up with my friend Godfrey, whose graduation at noon.I had to miss his graduation to go meet my parents for lunch. We sat super close to the arena floor, a couple of rows to We got to see Tara, Caiti , Daniella and Camille graduation. Jeremy came in to watch a hour later. Anyone I recognized I cheered for, including my friend from Pep Band, Berkin. After the ceremony, we were going took pictures with some of the graduates. My grandma called me while I was heading out, so I had to talk to her for a moment. I said I would call her back. After that, I took some pictures of Tara with our friends and me.

My parents had to pick me up from the ceremony around 11 or 11:30am. The problem was I wasn’t at the corner where they wanted to pick me up soon enough. So we took a detour and met in the Health Center parking garage. I got picked up inside the garage, but we needed to leave the garage. Since the speculators from the first ceremony were leaving the garage and the another crowd of speculators was coming in, we got caught in at least 30 minutes of traffic going one way around the southern half of the UT campus and downtown Austin.

Once we got out of traffic, my parents took me to the hotel where they were staying, a Super 8 on the south side of Austin near the Austin-Bergstorm Airport. The hotel room was small and cramped. There, I opened the cards some family members sent to my home address and gifts. For the gifts, I got a mug and a cap. My dad told me that there was something in the drawer. It was a unwrapped taped up brown box. I opened it up. I freaked out. I made some weird noises and I couldn’t believe it. It was a new smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy J7. I was so surprised that my dad would even get me another smartphone. I had one a couple years back, but since we didn’t have the correct SIM card, I just used the wifi features. I lost that phone on the bus one day and I haven’t seen it since then. I used my tablet like a smart phone since then, but it was bulky and outdated. I was so grateful for my parents for getting nice presents.

Then we had to go to lunch, We decided to go to a Trudy’s nearby us. I wanted to get a margarita to celebrate with lunch. I got a strawberry margarita with lunch, but it was a bad decision. My brother got upset and we had to get him a virgin strawberry margarita. Afterwards, we rested at the hotel and called my grandma. My family decided we should eat our leftovers for dinner at my apartment while I grabbed my regalia before the university wide commencement.

Then, my dad took me to my friend Abby’s graduation back at the Erwin Center around 3:30pm. My dad dropped me off at a faraway corner and told me to meet there to prevent getting caught in traffic. After a long midday, I was tired and worn out while at Abby’s ceremony. It was my fourth commencement that weekend. Somehow, I was able to congratulate her and any other friends I saw. Then we got out and took more pictures with all of Abby’s friends.

Then I said goodbye and left them to meet my parents around 5:30 pm so we could stop at my place to eat dinner and grab my regalia. Once I was picked up, my family took me to my place. We ate our leftovers for dinner in my small two bedroom apartment. My dad convinced me to split a Crawford Bock. Then, we cleaned up, went to the restroom, and got ready for the university-wide commencement.

Saturday Evening: Certification Commencement (+Fireworks!)

The evening began one of my favorite parts of the weekend, the University wide commencement in front of the UT Tower. This is where all the degrees are certified, and all the candidates receive their degrees. The university wide commencement started at 8 PM, but I had to get to the Littlefield Fountain with my tickets at 7:30 PM, for the Graduate Procession. It was rather hot and humid with an abounding amount of mosquitoes. My family decided to view the ceremony from inside the Student Activity Center (SAC) because the venue was too crowded and hot. I dropped my family off at the SAC and went to the Littlefield Fountain. I met up with Jeremy in the line with all of the engineers. I also ran into Seth, Bryce and met Ben and some new friends. We waited in the heat of the evening.

When the ceremony began, they played a variety of procession-style music from the Hogwarts theme to the Star Wars theme and even a new personal favorite. “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” from “Anything Goes” We walked up the South Mall and deposited our tickets.

The South Mall was truly festive. There was a cascade of faculty along the sidewalk of the West Mall dressed up in their regalia. People were sitting in chairs in the middle of the South Mall lawn, huddled around a screen. The six buildings known as the “Six Pack” had the six flags of Texas hung on them and Texas-style decor all around. My friends and I went in lines up the hill on the sidewalk. I ran into many of my old professors. Some congratulated me. I was so happy to see most of them. I made awkward eye contact with my studio professor, Dr. Milovanic-Bertram, who caused me to change my major from Architecture to Engineering. It was quite shocking to her that she recognized me and I was there. . I got a hug from Dr. Leite, my Project Management and Engineering Economics professor. Then, I processed up to the Main Mall, where we were to sit. There were so many engineers that we took up one and quarter sections. I was in the extra quarter group on the side behind the College of Liberal Arts.

I sat down. Luckily, people handed out water on the way up so we would not be dehydrated. I drank a lot of water. Every seat had a fan and program for the commencement underneath. We waited while everyone else got to sit down. I fanned because the evening twilight was humid and hot. I took some pictures while the rest of the graduates walked up. The excitement was unnerving. I couldn’t wait what would happen next.

After we sat down, the commencement truly began. The President of the University, Greg Fenves spoke about the University of Texas and the moment of the ceremony. There was 9,591 graduates this year. He wanted us to take it all in and remember everything. ( I hope this blog is at least a good sample of that.) Then we had the Texas Exes president come up and tell us about the Texas Exes, the alumni association. Every graduate gets a one year membership. She told us to move the UT ring with the Texas Exes facing in. I did that early the night before. She told that she would see us on Sixth Street that night partying. (I wouldn’t be there. I was too tired and worn out from the day.) Then, President Fenves introduced the student body president. Colton Becker. He spoke on behalf on the student body about some of the highlights of the graduates and their accomplishments, even it they’re just “glad to be here.” After that, President Fenves introduced our commencement speaker, Michael Dell.

Michael Dell is the Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies. He was a student at UT, living in Dobie Center nearby, but he dropped out of school to pursue a career in technology to start up a computer company. He spoke about the advances of technology and the future.

After that, the most important part was the certification of the degrees. Our degrees were to be certified before they were conferred to the degree candidates. The dean of each college/school would present a statement on behalf of the students describing the achievements made by the degree candidates. The degrees candidates would stand up and cheer in support and in confirmation of their degree. The tower would change color based on the school’s colors. It was a big cheering competition, except every one graduating wins because all the graduates were getting their degrees. This was a way for the university to join together without everyone walking in one ceremony, as the graduates had the opportunity to walk the stage at their own colleges’ commencement ceremony like I and my friends did.

The presentation began with the ROTC Commissions, who commissioned those going into the Armed Forces. Then, up next was the School of Architecture. I supported my fellow classmates from freshman year who were graduating by cheering, but I didn’t stand. Then there was the McCombs School of Business next. There was a hissing sound as they cheered because the students were jokingly regarded as snakes. Then, the Moody College of Communication, and the College of Education each had their turn.

Then, it was the Cockrell School of Engineering’s turn. I stood up and cheered with the rest of the graduates. The Dean of Engineering, Sharon Wood, spoke about our achievements and the advancement of engineering. I could barely hear her over our noisy screams and cheers. The tower had turned a bright orange like our stoles for our school’s colors. It was exhilarating. When she finished, I sat down with the rest of the future engineers and relaxed. It was oddly satisfying certifying our degrees.

After the Cockrell School, the following schools went up: the College of Fine Arts, the Jackson School of Geosciences, School of Information, School of Law, and the College of Liberal Arts, the last one being right in front of us. The biggest and loudest group of graduates was the College of Natural Sciences, which came after the College of Liberal Arts. I was proud for all my friends graduating. After the College of Natural Sciences, there was the School of Nursing,and the College of Pharmacy.

Near the end of the colleges, the ceremony had a technical malfunction. The LBJ School of Public Affairs had their turn. It was a small but mighty school of a few graduates. As the dean spoke about the school, the microphones went out. This drove the crowd crazy. The graduates sitting down began to chant a multitude of different chants including “LBJ”, Dean of Engineering Sharon Wood, (because it’s engineers who could fix the problem), the common “Texas Fight”,and “Daddy Fenves”, an inappropriate nickname for President Fenves. This went on for 10-15 minutes, but felt much longer. The Board and the Deans tried to keep the ceremony going after the audience calmed down without microphones, but with not much avail. The LBJ School finished up and the Dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work went up and gave their speech. During the end of the speech, the microphones began to work again. The Dean ordered a redo. The School of Social Work finished up and then the LBJ School went again. Finally, the Graduate School finished the ceremony. The graduates around us, including Jeremy and I congratulated Ben, who sat next to us with a Ph. D.

Finally President Fenves conferred all the degrees. He congratulated us. Then, all the graduates sang along with the band the school song “The Eyes of Texas.” It was beautiful and emotional. The tower turned orange with the numbers 19 in the windows. After the song ended, fireworks erupted around the Tower. It was a grand display with music and lots of different colored fireworks. It was so joyful and exciting.

Then, the ceremony ended and we got up. I walked around to exit the Tower area. I lost track of my friends, but texted Jeremy to see him when he is to pick me up the next day for the Baccalaureate Mass. After I texted him, I went to find my family. I found my dad outside and he wanted to take a few pictures of me with the orange Tower. I had tried to get a few pictures of the Tower myself earlier. It was too crowded and my camera battery nearly died. After the pictures, I met up with my family and dropped me off at my apartment and they headed to the hotel. I decided to rest after a long day and not go anywhere else except to bed.

Sunday: Baccalaureate Mass

On Sunday, we had the last event of my weekend: the Baccalaureate Mass. Jeremy was to pick me up and I was to meet my family at the University Catholic Center. Mass was at 10:30 am. When Jeremy picked me up, I texted my family to see if they were at church. They were already in the chapel. So, Jeremy dropped me off and he parked while I went inside to meet up with my family. Both of the priests at the University Catholic Center, Fr. Larry and Fr. Jimmy spoke to my parents and had much to say about me. I spoke to both of them, acknowledging how much I’ve done. Fr. Jimmy asked some of the graduates to participate in the Mass by being Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and Lectors if they were previously trained. I decided to have serve as Extraordinary Minister with one of the cups close to where my family was sitting.

The graduates gathered in the Atrium outside the chapel before Mass started. I had on my full regalia. When the Mass began, almost all the graduates processed into the chapel after the priests with the opening and sat on the left side of the chapel . Once the Mass began, we were to take our caps off. Then we went through the rest of the Mass.The mass went on very much like any other mass, with the Liturgy of the Word with two readings and a Gospel reading by the priest. Then, Fr. Larry gave a homily about the readings and our future as graduates, whether it be something we have planned out or not,(in my case, the latter). We are to remember the time we had at the Catholic Center and support it, and come back if we can.

When we did the collection during the Procession of the Gifts, I got up and passed the money baskets around and helped gather the gifts. Then, we had the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Fr. Larry and Fr. Jimmy recited the Eucharistic Prayer. We had the choir sing the Holy Holy Holy. When we got the Lord’s Prayer, it was nice to join hands and pray together with my fellow graduates. When we got to the Sign of Peace, I tried to give all of my nearby friends the Sign of Peace. Then, the ministers and I gathered around the altar as the Lamb of God was sung. Fr. Larry held up the Body and Blood of Christ which looks like bread and wine, and said the “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.” The congregation responds “Lord,I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Then, the priests distributed communion to the ministers and then all of us distributed communion to those who would receive communion. I was holding a chalice for the Blood of Christ. I would say “The Blood of Christ” to whoever came up. The other person would respond “Amen”, and take the sip from the cup. It was quite powerful when y family came up and was able to give communication to most of them. I now know how awkward it is to not let my older brother, Phillip, drink too much of the Blood of Christ.

After communion was over, we had some small announcements to catch up after the Mass, and some refreshments after Mass. Then all the graduate got up front on the platform and received a blessing. After that, we took a group picture. Then, Fr. Larry gave a final blessing and told us to “Go in peace and change the world.” It was different from the usual saying and included part of the school’s slogan, “What starts here, changes the world.” Then we processed out of the church and gathered for cake in the Atrium. I met up with my family and showed them around the place a little and met some of my friends. I only took a picture with my friend Sam, so the rest are from the University Catholic Center’s page.

I showed them the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and we prayed in there for a short while. I didn’t open the tabernacle, but I stayed silent while in the small chapel. I left the chapel before my family, but they soon exited the chapel. I hope they understood why the Catholic Center was so important to me. I am grateful to God for the community at the University Catholic Center and how God has impacted my life through His many blessings there throughout my time at the University of Texas at Austin.

After the crowds decreased, my family and I left the church. We decided to get lunch at Dirty Martin’s on Guadalupe St. It was a old-timey hamburger place. I had never been there, but I wish I had more often while I was in Austin. It was very good. After that, my family dropped me off at my apartment. We said our goodbyes and they headed home to Houston.

I hope that now you can see the emotions and the stories I had during this weekend, I might feel better about the current day-to-day. It was so satisfying to finally finish my college career on a high note. I hope that you can see the imperfectness of even the best days. I am willing to admit, I had to use my programs and look online to jog my memory of some of the events, including the Order of the Mass. I know it is hard to get every detail, but I hope I did a good job.

I also know that this is not the end of the road for me. God still has greater plans in store in the future, whether it be my career, my growth in faith, and the end of my life here and beyond. Jesus Christ is my savior in the end.

This is not The End of my story.


The Nerd of May

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