On Monday, May 28th, I graduated. It was Yale’s 306th commencement and the School of Management’s 30th. There were two separate ceremonies.
Soon-to-be graduates from all schools at Yale met at Cross-Campus to organize themselves for the procession. In rows of two, we marched by school until everyone arrived at Old Campus. In the middle of the quad were the graduates of Yale College, by far the largest contingent, flanked by professional and graduate school degree candidates. Though everyone was situated, the procession continued as the banners from each school were brought to the platform. Everyone from a particular school would cheer as that school’s banner became visible to its graduates. When the procession concluded, the president of the university, Richard Levin, welcomed everyone. This was followed by a prayer and a hymn. Afterwards, the presentation of candidates for degrees began.
At Yale, degrees are awarded en masse by the president of the university, by recommendation of the dean of each school. Until the dean formally presents his or her candidates and the president admits them, a person has not graduated. The president jokingly reminded the College’s degree candidates of this when they wouldn’t stop cheering after the dean presented them. But candidates from the School of Management started cheering even before Dean Podolny presented us. In fact, he hadn’t even reached the platform before we started, chanting “S-O-M! S-O-M!” for what seemed like a long time. The dean, anxious to proceed with the ceremony, used his arm to indicate that he wanted us to calm down, which only made us cheer louder. But both he and President Levin must have enjoyed our enthusiasm, as they continued to watch us, smiling. Finally, we quieted down and the dean presented us. A minute later, at exactly 11:13 a.m., the president formally admitted us. At that point, we officially graduated.
All graduates from all schools at Yale were reminded at the time of admission that this came with certain rights and responsibilities (as opposed to privileges). Candidates from the Law School were offered conditional admission because that school’s academic calendar ends later than the other schools’. And the Doctor of Philosophy presentation and admission were spoken in Latin. After another hymn, the conferral of honorary degrees, and another hymn and prayer, the ceremony ended and we made our way to SOM for our second commencement.
At SOM, we first heard from the dean. He was followed by our student-elected speaker, whose speech was the perfect mix of humor and seriousness. The refrain of “I was there, then,” created the most laughs. (This line came from an email that the dean sent to our class last year about the new curriculum. He explained that, while we wouldn’t benefit directly from the changes, we would be able to think to ourselves, “I was there, then.” This was supposed to make us feel special, like we were witness to some historic event. You can see how effective it was. LOL.) After this speech, there was a speaker from the first EMBA class. We then began the process of self-graduation, an SOM tradition, where the person receiving his diploma says the name of the person behind him, who says the name of the person behind him, etc. After the ceremony, we joined our families for lunch, took a few pictures, and said a few goodbyes.
Later that night, I spent some time with some of my nearest and dearest friends from SOM.
The ceremonies were awesome. At the first commencement ceremony, sitting with the other graduates from the university in Old Campus helped me to remember that SOM is very much a part of Yale, which is easy to forget when you only ever really see the same people in the same building everyday. And there was so much joy . . . a big, happy future in the eyes of everyone there. I will never forget the experience. It was easily one of the best of my life. Later, I asked my mom if she could hear the SOMers. She said that, after the College, we were the loudest. Yay! The second ceremony was considerably less formal. It was sweeter, more intimate; a great way to end two years of hard work, to be with your friends and to celebrate their accomplishments. I’m so proud of us!
Congratulations to the Yale SOM Class of 2007!!!