Sunday, September 23, 2007

During Graduation: The Ceremony

After much unwillingly hectic rushing from place to place for the entire afternoon, getting the regalia (graduation gown/robe) and camwhoring everywhere around the university ground, I managed to sneak back to the house and take a quick shower and fix-up before the main ceremony that took place at 630pm, on the very same evening. I got back at roughly 530pm, leaving me only less than an hour to prepare, plus getting myself there at the graduation hall. Thank goodness I need not apply any make-up, or fancy hair-do, else things would have turned out messier than it would have been.


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Surprisingly, I managed to drag my huge heavy ass out of the house, and arrived at the destination much earlier than planned which was around 620pm, when the door to the hall itself was not even opened. Nevertheless, quite a number of other graduands have arrived before me, and scattered all around the front lawn with their family members and friends. I was alone that time, so I decided to make use of my camera, my sole companion until we were called to get into the hall seatings.


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Walking around and taking pictures did not take much of the thoughts and strings of sentiments that clouded my mind that evening before graduation. Seeing everyone else having someone, especially family members with them was truly something more difficult that I thought I could bear. I have anticipated the crushing feeling inside since I have known my parents could not make it for some inevitable circumstances, but little did I prepare for such a heavy onflow of emotions. Since I was practically alone at that particular moment, I was nearing tears, but I fought as hard as I could, since I knew it was supposed to be a day of joy, and I deserve to be happy for this one specific moment in my life. This will happen only once, and I would do what I could to make sure it turned out to be a happy one. At least I tried, and I could only do so much as trying.


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Looking at the clear waters of the duck pond right in front of the Winthrop Hall, where the graduation was at, I could not help it but become deeply submerged into series of reflective thoughts. In just a matter of minutes, I could see virtually my entire life of university passing by me, as fast as the few minutes seem to be, but I felt the slow motion effect surrounding me with each memory that flashed by. Memories of friends whom I was supposed to graduate with one freaking year ago, but I could not make it due to some unforeseen consequences of my own deliberate actions. Memories of bitterness that I have gone through that evidently scarred me for the rest of my life. Memories of exams, assignments and endless work in uni life. Memories of endless sleepless nights in preparation for finals. Memories of everyone I have crossed paths with. Memories of inhumane monsters I have battled over the years, some I wish I would have killed them in any possible manners. Memories of lost friendships, and new found love which never quite bloomed. Those, were the memories that I do treasure, and they all built up to this one moment in my life: The Graduation Day.

It was not so much of the excitement now, not so much of suspense and sense of thrill. But rather, the feeling of accomplishment, the kind of emotion that you obtain when you have completed a set of 10000 pieces of jigsaw puzzle over a long period of time, but of course, multiply that with 100000 for an equivalent value of the fore-mentioned weightage of emotion. I have achieved something now. It may not seem like something extra-ordinary, or something that stood out from the rest. It may not seem like anything special. But now to me, it has a very personal meaning. I see now the graduation as something truly important. It was mine, I have had it in my hands, and I wanted it to happen.


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With so much thoughts going on my mind, it all came to an abrupt ending when the bell was resounded throughout the whole lawn, signalling everyone to march their way into their allocated seats. Clearing my mind of the unwanted stains of unnecessary emotions, I found my way inside the hall, and took my designated position.

When I first saw the hall, I was marvelled by its beauty. There was just something in the overall interior design that captured my breath, and one of the major element was none other than the Organ Pipes, sitting over-hanging the top front of the hall space. I do strongly think that those organ pipes demonstrated much of the prestige and unique accent to the atmosphere inside the hall. It symbolizes tradition and standards that this University has boldly cling to. Here is a picture I have taken last year, during the UWA Expo/Open day.


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Unfortunately, when I first looked to the front on the evening of my own graduation, I felt something terribly wrong. Nothing was the same, nothing seemed the same. I could not believe my own eyes.

Because the Organ Pipes was not there !! The gigantic structure/piece of instrument somehow dissappeared from the comfortable seat, and it just felt like a huge piece of the graduation hall went missing. There was this emptiness that could not be replaced by anything else, and the significant symbolism was taken off. I have heard that the organ piples were removed for some repair and restoration work, but seriously WTF !!! Why on my graduation??

What was worse... To replace those majestic organ pipes, the University decided to place BUTT UGLY looking speakers on the overhanging seats instead.


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Seriously again, WTF !!! It was just very... WRONG.

Never mind about the horrijible looking series of speakers, lets move on to something more joyful. I was delghted to find out that there were still a few people that I recognize from the university, and they were there that night of the graduation alongside with me. I have always feared that I would attend this convocation alone, since I was supposed to graduate one year (2 semesters ago) which simply means that almost everyone I knew from my semester in School of Civil Engineering has already left and not to be found anywhere ever again. It was comforting just a little bit, to have a few people sitting with me whom I do actualy know.



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CHRIS (E&E Engineering)

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The entire ceremony itsef was pretty much the standard that you could have identified from any graduation cemremonies anywhere else on the globe. First, the academic procession, then some boring address from some high-position members in the universities. After the superbly torturing speeches which no ordinary student would pay any attention to, the conferral of degrees commenced, with the graduands lining up obediently and walking up to the stage, shook hands with the chancelor, and fulfilling the centuries old ritual of concluding the long years of uni life. This is the official manner of graduation, and every single person had that glimpse of recognition, equally spreaded out to hundreds of other graduands present for that particular graduation session. One girl almost stumbled, and it would have been hillarious if the whole atmosphere was not so tensed up.


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It was my turn, I walked up the steps, walked to the center of stage, smiled, shook hands with the-important-person, and walked down the center steps, going back to my orginal seat. Simple procedure like this, carried powerful meaning with it, and consequently marked my ending of University life, and it was just like closing the book, slamming it shut with a loud "slap" sound.

So it was done, and I have fully, and wholy, graduated.

Something inside me felt warm. Something inside me felt, satisfied. Something in me told me that, I was glad. It was indeed beautiful.

Now what happened after my turn? Of course, we all had to sit down patiently, waiting for hundreds more graduands to go up the stage and have their turn, and it was getting very, very dreadful. I am sounding very selfish now, but hey, I can guarantee you that I was not the only one feeling that way.

The last person to receive the award was the prize winner for having composed the best thesis for a postgraduate research. Allow me to share with you what the topic of the thesis was, and somehow, I thought it must have been something truly interesting, and out of the ordinary to win such a high-regarded recognition.

Indeed, it was out of the ordinary, no doubt....


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The end of the ceremony was somehow taking a rather unpredictabe twist, at least for me. Imagine I was so overflowed with joy for finally getting on hold of the long desperately awaited degree, but somehow, something happened that drstically turned the table around. The graduands were to leave the hall first, our seats being placed to the front of the hall, and the guests at the back, while the exit was at the rear, we were all instructed to walk pass the guests to the exit. Walking towards the exit involuntarily made me realise, the immense number of parents, and families/relatives who were there for their respective graduands. Looking into their faces, I could see the presence of so much happiness. Sense of being proud of their sons/daughters achievement.

My heart sank to the floor, and my legs just felt frozen. I felt my shadows pulling me down.

How I wish my mum and dad were there to witness the whole thing. How i wish, I could have shared this moment of happiness with them. Even for just a while, it would have been alright.

I prayed so hard for a way to have them here. I just hoped they could see me. Now. I guess some things are just too much to ask for. Some things are not meant to happen. And maybe I was just being plainly selfish.

Somehow, it was just scorchingly saddening and before I consciously knew it, I was clumsily wiping off my cheek with the back of my palm and locking away the tormenting thought of loneliness. I tried, and it half-worked. I dried my eyes, but the haunting feeling stayed with me as I walked through the exit.

As I moved out of the graduation hall, another session of the night took place, which I shall blog in the coming entry: After Graduation: After-Party and Friends

And so it was done. It was put to an end. My university life has now, truly, ceremonially terminated. It is time, to move on.


  1. congratulations robin! big wet kisses on your cheek LOL! i'm so happy happy happy for u! and thanks for the photos since i never got to go inside a ceremony in winthrop hall before!

    when i come visit we can have a mini super-belated covo just u and me! that i promise! i'll cam whore with u too!


  2. congrats 2 u on ur graduation!! its really funny when u think about all the hard work, sleepless nights and endless sweat & blood jz 2 get that single piece of paper, right? ;)

  3. hey marcus,
    thanks so much !!! If I ever drop by singapore, I will definitely look u up, then we shall do our little own celebration. Oh good ness that would be so fun !!!

  4. ah paiseh..belum congratulate lagi...congratulations!! haha.. finally properly graduated liaw.. feels good to ditch the torturing uni life eh? haha