Convocation — It’s Time!

Convocation at UAlberta

Convocation is both a wedding and a roller coaster.

It’s like a wedding because it’s a celebration, a legal ceremony, and a long day marked with memorable moments. There is excitement, nerves, and drama. There are thousands of details and even more opinions on how it should all be done and what will happen next.

It’s like a roller coaster because there’s the anticipation, the preparation, the panic. Then you sit down and are swept away for the ride. There are ups and downs, lulls and rushes, quiet reflective times with the occasional bursts of laughter and cheering. It’s somber and serious, fun and fantastical.

I’ve been in a few convocation ceremonies over the years, in a few different roles.

As a member of the Students’ Union executive* and then of Senate, I proudly marched in the processional and then, from several rows back on stage, watched the backwards videos.

As a graduating student, I stressed about which side to hang the tassel and if my family would actually be able to see me as I crossed the stage.

As a staff member with the Office of Advancement and the Alumni Relations, I welcomed the graduates into the new community — and immediately reminded them to give back, whether it be by volunteering, advocating, or donating.

Last year, while on secondment with the Office of the Registrar, I even had the opportunity to be a small part of the quiet machine that makes it all run so smoothly.

I’ve seen the behind-the-scenes organization that goes into creating the parchments, distributing the tickets, and organizing the platform party. There are invitations to issue, emails to go to students, and programs to print.

In the robing room downstairs, I’ve learned just how complicated it is to get in (and out!) of a PhD gown. My apologies for the knots, Dr. Dean.

Clad in a green gown with gold accents, during a couple of upcoming ceremonies I will lead the procession of convocants to the stage. The instructions, out of necessity, are straightforward: follow the person in front of you, x really does mark the spot, and smile when they call your name. Shake the offered hands as you cross the stage, and pause again at the top of the stairs for the official photo.

Enjoy the moment, the speeches, the sense of accomplishment.

And most of all, congratulations!

Image for Post

Sheila Graham — Communications Strategist, Office of Advancement

Sheila is a proud BArts alumna. She is a Communications Strategist with the Office of Advancement. She previously worked for the Government of Alberta and freelanced as Crocodile Ink. And in case you were wondering, Sheila prefers dark chocolate and eats like a hobbit.

*Sheila was in student government with Red Deer College. When she transferred to the University of Alberta to finish her degree, she served as a student member of the university’s Senate.