On the morning of the annual Honors Convocation, the storm clouds were rolling in. Outside, the trees swayed to the beat of the swelling breeze and the raindrops that weren’t redirected by each powerful gust, slammed angrily against the pavement. Okay, I though to myself as I watched my hopes of arriving dry to the ceremony get washed away with the rain. Nix the heels. Go with flats and an umbrella instead!
So I made my way (safely, albeit two inches shorter) to the Kuch Center where I was instructed to line up behind the other Distinguished Honors Scholars. In line, I craned my neck to scan the crowd, eager to get a look at my fellow honorees. But, because the room was full of movement as everyone tried to figure out where they were supposed to be, I was only able to catch quick glimpses of the faces that flew past me. And then the lines were moving forward and the ceremony was about to begin!
Once I made it to my seat in the gymnasium, I looked up eagerly, but all I saw were the backs of a handful of heads. The row of people sitting in front of me must have been at least six inches taller than me, even sitting down! Had someone told all the super tall people to sit here, or something!? Sighing, I bent my head and busied myself by flipping through the program of events that had been placed on my chair.
Despite my bad view of the stage, once the ceremony started, I was enthralled! I had expected to be put to sleep by drawn out lamentations on academia, but, to my surprise, the speeches were quick, thought provoking, and entertaining. The speakers talked to us, not at us, and stressed the importance of maintaining the balance between our scholastic and personal lives during our time here at Arcadia. Thanks to the microphone and good public speaking skills, I was able to soak up every word, even though all I could see was the blonde hair of the girl sitting in front of me!
And then came the moment I had been waiting for; it was time to recognize those students who had received distinguished honors by having them stand. As Dr. Nancy Rosoff announced my category and I rose to my feet, I was finally able to get a good look at the faces of my peers. There was that boy from my orientation group! There was my RA! And, over there, that girl had been in my First Year Seminar! None of them were in my major, so we didn’t really have any classes together. But here, today, at this Honors Ceremony, we could finally come together under a common academic purpose.
For me, that was the most valuable part of the ceremony. Because we spend so much time with others in our major, we are surrounded by the same group of thirty-something kids every day. And, while it’s wonderful to build such strong relationships with like-minded people, we don’t always get the chance to communicate academically with scholars of other disciplines out side of our university requirements. But at that moment, in a gymnasium filled with students of all ages and all disciplines, I felt a real connection with the people around me. So what if we couldn’t communicate with each other about the intricacies of our own fields? We had a deeper connection: our commitment to academics. And that allowed us to communicate with one another in a language understood by everyone in the room.