One of the cool things about graduation weekend at the University of Oklahoma is what people wear. You know those long robes, funny hats, velvet hoods and cowls? You’ve no doubt seen graduating students wearing these, as well as commencement speakers, faculty members and university administrators. When you graduate, you get to wear this too. There’s a long history of who wears what and why when it comes to academic dress, dating back to Medieval England but that is a discussion for another day.
For now, I happily confess that I get a kick out of wearing my academic robes. It makes me feel proud. As a member of theCollege of Liberal Studies staff, I participate in convocation every December and May. It is one of my favorite parts of the job, seeing our students and their families, the true emotion of the day. …it’s awesome.
I also must confess that I never envisioned myself sitting up on that stage surrounded by deans and faculty in full academic dress as a member of this outstanding group of people. Sure, I often imagined I would one day finish my bachelor’s degree. But I also was climbing the proverbial corporate ladder, supporting a family and trying not to think about the many hours I had accumulated with no degree. Not sure how it was going to happen.
However, I can attest to the fact that finishing and graduation happens quickly! I started in fall of 2004 and I walked across the stage in December 2005 and it seemed like no time. Really, 18 months compared to the adult average lifespan of 75?
Of course the all-university commencement ceremony and the CLS convocation are about more than just clothes. There are receptions, and speakers and all kinds of rituals, including fireworks. And why not? This is a celebration after all. Earning a degree of any kind is a life-changing and amazing accomplishment.
You can see images of these events online and I urge you to check it out. Then, envision yourself wearing a robe and mortar board. You can become an OU graduate too. It truly can happen sooner than you think.
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.