Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hats Off and On For Graduation 2016

Taylor Zumbach, final graduate of class of 2016, is congratulated by President Laurie Hamen.

The graduation hat, it seems is a new medium of communication.

Not that decorating hats is a brand new idea, but it seemed to really take off this year at Mount Mercy University, which held its 2016 graduation May 22.

Some hats were artistic and interesting.

Samantha Wilson is  under that interesting hat.
Some hats aimed for emotion or humor.

Zane died in a car accident weeks before graduation and memorialized on this hat. Next one aims for humor.

Some hats were id badges or had poignant messages.

"Can you read my hat?" Taylor Zumbach asked. Yes, I could. Other hat is in honor of two basketball players who died in car accidents in recent years.

Some hats sported headlines.

I think this graduate is going to school to become a PA, a physician's assistant. I don't think she is going to Pennsylvania.
Some hats were decorated under the mortar board.

Flowers under the board.
Anyway, I thought graduation went well, as those things go. It is a bit of an ordeal, and the chairs were packed really, really tightly for no discernible reason. The sound system played a bit of havoc, especially with the student speech, which might as well have been in Greek for all that I could make out due to the out of synch audio coming from different spots. Usually, the U.S. Cellular Center has pretty good sound. Not sure what happened this year. I hope I was just in a bad spot, and most people could experience what the speakers were saying.

At Mount mercy, we had our largest graduating class, something that was noted in The Gazette.

Besides the commencement ceremony itself, graduation weekend has lots of symbolic events. There is a nursing pinning, a master’s hooding and an honors convocation.

Some scenes from the honors convocation.

In addition, because MMU is a Catholic school, there is a graduation Mass, which is a nice event that I think is a bit under-attended. It seems to really have an impact on those who go—the blessing of the graduates and the giving of roses at the end is always emotional.

Graduates being blessed and other scenes from graduation Mass.

As a medium of communication, a commencement and it attendant other events is an interesting ritual. It serves many constituencies, which explains why it can get tedious, at times.

I used my extra time partly to shoot images—and one of my former students on Facebook said that mine were better than the official photographer’s. I don’t think that’s true—I was stuck in one spot at the main ceremony and the official crew moved around and got many interesting images from many angles

Maybe it’s a more personal comment, that the student liked my photos of her more than the official ones. That could be more accurate, but then again, the official photographer had close to 600 students to try to record, and I had only a handful that I knew and was watching for, which makes some difference. Also, they were taking hundreds of “graduate standing with the president” portraits—that kind of formal, repetitive image is bound to seem a bit wooden, while I was free to time my photos based on vignettes I wanted to capture.

Also, I can freely choose what to shoot and what to post--I don't have to carry the burden of "official" communication. That, and the fact that I'm senior enough be be sitting in the front row, probably aids my pictures.

Anyway, as I noted, the ceremony inevitably drags, a bit. That says nothing negative about those who planned this year’s event—it’s the nature of the beast. So, I say hats off to the class of 2016 and their classy hats for finding a new bit of bling to bring to this year’s event. A few more images from the graduation ceremony: