Yesterday was an amazing day.
Some parts of Tuesday, May 23, were normal Tuesday events. I started the day with an early wake up because I had gone to bed a little early the night before with one goal in mind. Make sure my voice was ready for the twice annual commencement ceremonies at which I read names. I believe this was the seventh ceremony for which I was the exclusive name reader. It’s a big job and an important one as each student deserves to have their name read as accurately as possible before he or she walks across the stage to shake hands with the Dean.
After the wake up, a little bit of work and then a run with my training partner of 5+ years with whom I have run on average more than once a week for three years now. It is a beautiful friendship and we had a fun conversation. She also enjoyed the chickpea flour crepe with Nutella that I shared with her. I had extra chickpea flour after a failed attempt at making an Indian dessert. The crepes, however, were wonderful.
Home, ready for work, and a drive to the location of the commencement ceremony. 99% of the drive was just fine. The last 1% took about 10 minutes as people were being asked to pay to get into the garage (rather than paying when they leave) and that slowed the process down.
I was wearing a bow tie that I had to tie myself for the first time. The number of compliments I received—not so much about tying it myself but about the bow tie in general, surprised me. Apparently, many of the staff with whom I work asked my assistant if she had suggested the bow tie. But it was as much a surprise to her as to anyone else. My bow tie even made the hand drawn label where I hung my academic regalia thanks to the dean’s executive assistant.
Faculty also thought I was still working during the pre-commencement prep time. I was. But the work was not answering emails or reading a peer reviewed paper. Instead, the work was my last read through of the names. Someone even commented, “If you don’t know it by now…”
Nevertheless, when we got to the name reading part of the commencement ceremony, I did a pretty good job. Yes, I know of at least two I messed up on. One was my bungling as I looked at the phonetic spelling but should have just read the name as written. The other was a misinterpreted phonetic for which the student actually called me out as he walked across the stage. First time that has happened. But as I had told colleagues and my running partner earlier in the day, reading names is something where the reader needs to be present with and mindful about each name. Not thinking ahead. Not dwelling on past mispronunciations. Just reading one name and a time. And not letting one misread get to me. If I did, it would be a disaster and could spiral to more misreading quite quickly. I cited the story of Rick Ankiel that I’d heard on a public radio program. He let throwing one wild pitch in a playoff game go to his head and threw five wild pitches in that inning. I needed to go on reading regardless. When all was said and done, I received positive comments about the ever improving nature of my pronunciation of Mandarin names from faculty who were native Mandarin speakers. And later, at a reception for one of our dual programs, a student leader told her fellow students who commented on my name reading on how much I practice. She knows how seriously I take my job and my responsibility to students in particular.
The next stop was that reception I mentioned. It was for our dual program with a design program that we call Design Leadership. I enjoyed talking with students and with one of the faculty from the MICA side of the dual program whom I had not met before. I sat at the table with the student leader mentioned above. She gave me flattering praise as an advocate for students and as a mentor to the Carey Women in Business group. I chatted with her and her family. And we talked about cooking, including Indian cooking, and the dessert I had tried to make. She told me that even in India most people don’t try to make the dessert I tried but have their favorite sweet shop at which the family likely knows the owner and has gone to the same shop for generations.
Also at the reception, we talked about cicadas. Some of the 17-year cicadas who are due to come out in several years have been turning up early. I had taken several pictures. One student wanted to see a picture I’d taken. The students thought the picture was pretty good. And it was interesting to think about what could be done with a picture of a cicada while at a reception at an art school.
On the way to the reception, I had passed the site of the commencement ceremony for my training partner who had graduated from the University of Baltimore Law School a year ago. That brought back some very nice memories. While I had not attended my other training partner’s graduation this year, I knew that another training partner had graduated from UB’s Law School just a week earlier. On the way to the reception, I also passed the apartment building at which one of my MBA mentees had her post-graduation party several years ago. More good memories.
What a day in the life. Great people at present. Being present. Great memories of the past. Makes work a pretty great thing for me.