Thursday, May 05, 2005

Meeting Parents at the End of an Academic Year

One thing I particularly enjoy about an academic year’s end is meeting the parents of students that I know will. Graduation – and especially the Continental breakfast I serve in my apartment on moving out weekend – provide opportunities to do so. It is so interesting to view a couple whose genes and personalities blended to create a student that I have come to know well; perhaps over two or three years.

Sometimes my acquaintance with parents extends beyond casual conversation, though this is rare. During these rites of passage times, parents’ focus is on their son or daughter – and perhaps their son’s or daughter’s friends, intimate and otherwise. They are happy to see – in the flesh - professors about whom they have heard, but there is hardly time to make a real connection. We are not quite sure what so say to one another, though I try hard to put parents at their ease. I actually want to know more about them. Praising their son or daughter in specific terms, something that is usually easy to do, seems to work best. And on graduation day, students deserve every scrap of acknowledgement they can get for completing their Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral Degree.

I know, perhaps better than most, what it has taken to pass these milestones. And it is such a privilege to be able to share in these journeys.

This may sound like a platitude, but it is true.


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