Dr. Terry Smith, Interim President
College graduation day represents so many things. Many are obvious. It is an end. It is a beginning, thus, commencement. It is a process. You will be the same person the day after, but also different. Mark Baisley, Columbia College Class of 1988, was pleased to note that after he received degree his didn’t change, but the respect he got from co-workers did.
Graduation is a metamorphosis. College is a womb of sorts, and then you are born and your college is your alma mater, the Latin phrase for “nurturing mother”. And you are always welcome on the beautiful main campus of your alma mater. If you are not from Columbia, Missouri, please come see us.
Graduation is an emotion. It is a day you will never forget, and there will be something about the day, whether you walk across a stage or experience it virtually, that will be branded into your memory. It will be a bright line. I got my bachelors at a liberal arts school like Columbia College and played in the band. My freshman, sophomore and junior years I was in the band playing the recessional for the graduates. On my commencement day the band played the recessional for me. It was a profound emotional threshold. You will have one, too maybe not on The Day, but involving The Day.
Finally, graduation is a pivot. For many of you it will be a personal pivot. You set a goal, you achieved the goal, your life is forever changed. For others of you, if you are the first member of your family to earn a college degree, your entire family changes direction on your achievement. Your entire family is forever transformed. You have performed, to quote Class of 2008 graduate Teresa Lindahl, a genealogical pivot.
Graduates, congratulations on your ending. Congratulations on your beginning. Congratulations on your process. Congratulations on your metamorphosis. Congratulations on your emotion. Congratulations on your pivot. Best always.