Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Happy Graduate

Another family milestone was celebrated this past Saturday when my daughter graduated from Oregon State University.

She received the actual diploma!

After many years of study, Denise earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.  My son Cody and my parents traveled to Oregon to help celebrate the occasion.

Loved Denise's cap decorations!

Oregon State is a huge university.  This year's graduating class was a record 5,221 students.  In order to help spectators find their graduate in the mob, many grads affix elaborate decorations to the top of their caps.  In keeping with her major, Denise stuck a test tube, molecule model, and painted her initials as periodic table elements.  Very creative!

Social media is everywhere - even graduations!

With such a large number of graduates and family, commencement was held in Reeser Stadium.  It's the only place on campus big enough to hold a huge crowd.

Hamming it up for mom's camera

Early that morning, my hubby and folks left to snag a seat in the stadium, while I hung out with Denise at the campus quad.  The quad was the designated graduate assembly area.  Denise found the correct line and took her place among the mass of smiling students.

A happy young lady, ready to walk

It was great fun to be amongst a large group of happy young people, all ready to celebrate their accomplishments.  I checked out some of the cap decorations, and chuckled to see many of the gowns still bearing fold creases.  I'm sure a lot of them were only taken out of their packages that very morning.

Watching the grads approach on the jumbo-tron

I finally bid Denise goodbye and located my family in the stadium bleachers.  I was surprised to see that the concession stands were open for business.  I've never been to a graduation where spectators were eating popcorn and hot dogs!

While waiting for the ceremony to begin, the jumbo-tron flashed footage of the graduates marching through campus, and gave periodic updates of their whereabouts.

The graduates enter the stadium

Finally, with a roar, the mass of black-gowned students stormed into the stadium.  The band struck up "Pomp and Circumstance."  That song always get me misty-eyed, and I admit I shed a few tears.  My baby girl was going to be a college graduate!

It was a huge crowd

The program allocated a full half hour for all the graduates to enter the stadium and be seated.  I couldn't believe it would take that long, but oh it did!  When all 4000 plus of them took their seats, it was a sight to behold!  I was able to capture this panoramic shot of black-capped students covering the stadium floor.

It was fun to see the different cap decor

It was interesting to look out into the sea of graduates at the different things affixed to caps.  Seated in sections by colleges, the College of Liberal Arts had the largest amount of colorful caps, while the College of Engineering had barely any.

The moment we've all been waiting for

The actual ceremony itself was pretty dull.  There was the usual speeches about going into the world and making a difference.  Living your life, etc, etc...  It was a hot, sunny day, and although we spectators were shaded by the stadium roof, the poor graduates sat out in the middle of the field with no shade.  Full sunshine beat down and heated them up in their black robes.  Denise texted us that she was sweating through her clothes.  Some of the graduates even removed their gowns. 

Can this girl be any happier?

After nearly an hour and a half of speeches and songs, the moment we'd been waiting for finally arrived.  The mood on the field became jubilant, with cheers, waves and several beach balls bouncing through the crowd.  The graduates were divided into four lines, all directed to different places on the field, to receive their diplomas.  Due to the large volume of students, no names were announced.  But I watched and waited for my daughter's turn.  Since our last name is near the end of the alphabet, it took awhile.

Yeah - I did it!

But finally I spied Denise moving towards the front of the seating area.  Training my zoom lens on her, I fired away.  I've never seen my daughter so happy.  I love the above photo the very best.  A moment of unbridled joy!

Earlier this year, Denise was unsure whether she'd participate in commencement.  She thought it would be too many people, and too long of a ceremony.  When she finally decided to walk, I told her we'd be there.  After watching my daughter get handed her diploma (she received the actual document) and raise it up in triumph, I was glad she decided to participate.

Family photo - brother, parents and grandparents

After locating Denise outside the stadium, she took us to the Chemistry Building, where the department sponsored a lunch for the graduates and their families.  We got to meet some of her professors and personally thank the man that tutored our daughter through two quarters of P-Chem (a horribly hard chemistry class).

My fabulous kids

But the best news of all - a week before she graduated, Denise was offered a job in a local chemistry lab.  So not only is my daughter a college graduate, she will also be employed, working in her dream job.

I'm one proud mama!

I'm so proud of Denise I could burst.  She's worked so hard to make it to this day.  She did not pick an easy course of study.  It entailed many, many hours and nights of studying.  Having to decline her friend's offers to go out on the weekends.  Taking impossibly hard chemistry tests.  Spending hour upon hour in the lab, finishing experiments. Working two jobs to pay rent, food, and car payments.

Way to go, Denise!  Enjoy this moment.  You've earned every bit of it.


  1. Congrats, CONGRATS! Your daughter looks like she is having such fun.

  2. Congrats, Denise! What an amazing accomplishment. Chemistry is so hard! And the fact that she already has her dream job lined up is wonderful. I can't believe there were so many students graduating that day! Crazy. Loved her decorated cap! :)

  3. Please congratulate your daughter for me-what a wonderful achievement!! LOVED the cap top:)

  4. Congrats to Denise and to her parents - what a wonderful achievement.

  5. Congratulations Denise on graduating and accepting your 1st position! Linda you captured the emotion of the day so well, especially with such numbers. A very, very proud day for you.

  6. Loved the pics and description of your day. She is so gorgeous and Cody is so handsome.

  7. Your heart must have been full of excitement on this special day.

  8. Congrats to your daughter, and to YOU, Proud Mom! This was so cool - kind of felt like I was along for the experience. You did a great job capturing her day!

  9. Congratulations - for both of you. And I LOVE the picture with all the caps froma bove!

  10. Massive congratulations to your daughter - and to her family for supporting her! Such a happy day - well worth all the hours of study.
    I was intrigued by all the similarities and differences with a Scottish graduation ceremony. Sort of 'same-but-different'! Loved the decorated mortar boards - our students would never be allowed to do that!
    I'll be posting photos of my son's graduation later this week - he's graduating in Engineering, and the whole ceremony will be for Engineering (but a bit smaller venue than your stadium).

    Hope you are still enjoying the post-graduation glow!

  11. Congratulations to Denise! You sure are a happy and proud mama :)

  12. Congrats on her job! My daughter graduated a month ago and is still looking. Our ceremony looked tiny compared to yours! They divided into AM and PM groups because there wasn't an area large enough. Cute pic of the kids together!


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