Sunday, June 15, 2008

Michael's graduation from Columbia

May 22, 2008 -- A major milestone for my family!

I traveled to New York to watch Michael graduate from Columbia University. I stayed with a couple of dear friends at their place near Central Park. It was a short taxi ride from LaGuardia airport, and it was so nice to see them and spend a bit of time catching up on news.

Taxis are the life blood of New York city.

The subway and bus system are also essential for getting around without owning a car.

I caught the train near my friend's place and rode up to Columbia early on Wednesday.

I arrived a couple of hours early and the crowds were already huge. There was only one entrance for admission and the crowd control was already in place as I walked toward campus.

I had wanted to get a pic of Michael in front of this banner, but we never managed to get to this end of campus after commencement.

The general admission tickets were for a space below the upper courtyard. All the hoopla was up on the steps of the library ahead.

I found a seat near the front and it didn't take very long for the seats to start filling in. The forecast was for rain and clouds, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining bright as the crowd flowed into the area.

Many languages and nationalities from around the globe surrounded me as I sat there and waited for commencement to begin.

This was my first visit to Columbia and so I have no idea what buildings appear in these images.

I tried to capture all the buildings. Michael can tell me what they were at some point.

These cameras were for big screen shots and also for a webcast. Steve and his parents watched everything on the web. I couldn't see any of the screens because people were standing in the way.

More crowd pics here . . .

and here.

Finally, the students started to file in to sit in the stands and in the designated chairs on the upper level.

This is the start of Michael's college filing in. He was in General Studies, with a major in biology.

I actually could see Michael through my telephoto lens and so was able to contact him on my cell phone. "Hi Mom!"

After all the students filed in, it was time for pomp and circumstance - a lot of it, plus a lot of hot air.

Prowd family and friends capturing all the moments.

Michael's group.

Michael is the long hair in the center.

President and deans, getting ready to announce degrees.

This is the dean for General Studies.

GS students cheering

More speechifying

Polite laughter

Finally! These students are now graduates of Columbia University. Congratulations!

I wanted to avoid the crowd rush after the ceremony, so I started to make my way toward an exit while commencement was still going on.

The view from the back was challenging

I have no idea how many people were crowded in there, but it was enough to start me on a panic attack. I have a form of claustrophobia about being in large crowds.

A view from one of the buildings - AC was welcomed at this point in the day.

A couple of cell phone calls to Michael to let him know where to find me while I watched the crowds begin to disperse.

Michael - the new college graduate.

He looks pretty good in baby blue, eh?

It didn't take long for people to escape the heat.

The students had to go to their various college offices to retrieve their diplomas.

I'm very proud of Michael. He worked hard and learned some important life lessons along the way to achieving this diploma.

He starts grad school in the fall, and it will be fun to watch him grow as he explores some interesting areas of research.

Michael, in line to receive his diploma.

Except there was a glitch and his diploma wasn't there.

An uncomfortable wait while one of the advisers checked and rechecked his transcript, trying to sort out where the glitch occurred. Someone from the biology office didn't get the paperwork where it needed to be on schedule, and so Michael's diploma wasn't available because he wasn't on the "cleared list" as of graduation day. That was sorted out straight away and he picked up his diploma the next day. Bummer.

I'm glad I was able to attend commencement and share this experience with Michael. He is now a second generation scholar and I'm very glad to have one of my children following in my footsteps.

Congrats, Michael!

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