This month brought the end of nearly two years of school, including both summers for a total of 6 semesters, and with it the completion of my masters degree in Software Management from CMU. I didn’t participate in formal graduation ceremonies as an undergrad. I had a rather checkered undergraduate educational experience and the completion of a degree didn’t mean that much to me at the time. Going back to school for a masters degree, with a full time job and a family, was a different story. This time I was doing it for the learning experience and was studying a subject I was interested in and paying for it out of my own pocket. That and the fact that I wanted to set a good example for my kids about the value of staying in school and finishing what you started meant that I wasn’t about to miss CMU’s graduation ceremony.
I had the option of participating in the main graduation in Pittsburgh in the spring but it just seemed like too much expense to fly out there so instead I waited and walked with my Silicon Valley classmates at the end of summer. Most of my class participated in the ceremony so it was fun to see friends and Nancy and the kids got to visit Nancy’s parents while I was participating in graduation weekend events on campus.
On graduation day there was a bagpiper that led the procession of graduates to the parade grounds in alphabetical order which meant I was one of the last in line. The pomp and circumstance and regalia of academia made me chuckle a bit but it was cool to see the various costumes and learn a little bit about the traditions. We all wore an orange “hood” because that is the color of engineering departments at most schools. The dean even had a fancy tudor bonnet that I never figured out the significance of but the kids thought it was cool.
After the procession of graduates and the speeches, they read each of our names as we walked across the stage to receive our diplomas then everyone gathered afterwards for a fun luncheon with their families and the faculty and staff on campus. I was proud of myself for finishing my degree but I was especially glad that Nancy and the kids could attend the ceremony. I couldn’t have done it without them as the two years of class and homework and team projects meant I had precious little free time at home. In the end it was a great experience at CMU and I thank my family for making it possible.