Convocation: an introspective

Blog Post - August

It’s hard not to get even a little bit sentimental, taking bold strides up the four steps towards the Chancellor. One foot after the other. Mentally repeating ‘don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip.’ To think that four years of studies have cumulated to this very moment. Behind me, a roar of applause from the crowd gathered in Convocation Hall. I turn around, smile, and give a brief wave to my friends and peers who have traded their usual jeans and t-shirts for black gowns and coloured hoods. It’s surreal that all my hard work led to this point.

But before I can get too introspective, the next name is called, which is my cue to exit the stage. Quickly making my way to the nearby hallway, I am guided by staff who hand me my degree sealed in a large white envelope with a subtle University of Toronto emblem in the top right corner. They quickly take my photo. I’m almost certain I blinked, but they assure me its fine and I process back to my seat.

Is that it? Is it over? Did I officially graduate? Sure, I am still full of adrenaline from crossing the stage, but otherwise, I don’t feel all that different from when I left my seat mere minutes ago. Then again am I really any different of a person then I was yesterday? Or even four years ago when I first stepped foot inside the Instructional Building for MGM 101 with Professor Swanston?

The clapping and cheering continue as the final few Bachelor of Business Administration students wait for their names to be called all while the Bachelor of Commerce students begin queuing up alphabetically behind them.

In the transition my friend sitting next to me looks around and comments, “I wonder how much tuition is in this room right now?” We try to fight back laughter taking guesses at the cumulative amount with each estimate larger than the last. Inside jokes about deregulated tuition fees are common among business students as a unifying characteristic of our shared university experience.

But it got me thinking about the other commonalities between all of us like:

  • How many hours had we stayed up late studying or finishing projects?
  • How many kilometres had we travelled to get to and from campus?
  • How much money had we spent on coffee at the Davis Building Tim Hortons to survive those dreadful 9 a.m. lectures? (More than I’d personally like to admit)
  • How many new skills did we learn?
  • How many new friends did we make?

My realization in that moment was that despite the hardships, through the virtue of perseverance, each of us had grown and developed into the people we are now. Each of us smarter, more confident and well rounded – now well equipped to handle the new journeys that lie ahead. It was a gradual progression that isn’t quite encapsulated by receiving an 8 1/2″ x 11″ diploma.

“By the authority vested in me and in the whole University, Admit you to your various degrees.” Eventually every name had been called and with those words, the ceremony was over.

Looking at the photos now it’s hard to believe that it has been about two months since convocation and the end of my undergrad career. I still haven’t come to terms with being considered an alumnus! But I am ready and eager to enter a new chapter in my life. Over the coming months, I hope through this blog series I can offer some perspective and guidance for those transitioning into the “real world.” One foot after the other. My undergraduate experience has transformed me into the person I am today and I am ready for the journey ahead.

Matthew Smith
B.B.A., Class of 2018

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