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I graduated college!

June 8, 2015
AUTHOR: admin
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Last Tuesday, June 2, 2015, I did it! I graduated college! It was a exciting, but very rainy day. Before I tell you all about it, though, I’m going to tell you about the week leading up to it. As you may remember from reading about my boyfriend’s college graduation, for some colleges graduation is more than a day. For me, it was a 6-day series.

Reunions, the first part of graduation, started on Thursday, May 28. It’s hard to explain exactly what Reunions is- it’s kind of one of those, you have to be there to understand. In short, though, Reunions is a three-day series following Memorial Day Weekend where 20,000+ Alumni and family and friends come back to Princeton to celebrate the Tiger Network. Reunions is not limited to the major years (5, 10, 25, etc.); it’s never an off year. Don’t believe me? Click here.

The highlight of Reunions is the P Rade on Saturday afternoon, where every Princeton alumni in attendence marches down Elm Drive- the main drag of campus. It starts with the 25th Reunion Class. Then it goes from the oldest to the youngest. This year, the oldest alumnus was from the Class of 2015. How crazy is that?! He had to be about 100 years old!

Once all the classes pass by, the P-Rade stops, while the Class of 2015 gets set up. Once organized, the graduating class runs through the gates to the end of the P-Rade where they sing Old Nassau (my Alma Mater) before the President’s Review Stand.

This is me at the conclusion of the P-Rade with the Tiger!


After the three-day craziness that was Reunions, we began the second portion of graduation, which is more family oriented. It began with the Baccalaureate Service on Sunday, with Keynote Speaker Lisa Jackson *86. (Side note: At Princeton using ‘XX after someone name delineates undergraduate alumnus/a status, but using *XX means an individual is an alumnus/a of the Graduate School.)

Her speech really hit home with me, as she spoke about how she had been the best at her undergrad, but came to Princeton and was getting her butt kicked. She spoke about her challenges as a minority woman. She spoke about accepting careers that weren’t in her plans. She said, “On the good days, it was harder than anything I had ever done before.” As I listened, I realized she was speaking to me. Her speech felt like a validation of my experience. I, too, had struggled despite originally being the best. I, too, had worked the hardest I ever had to just be mediocre. I, too, had been called aggressive in a classroom of all men. I had been told to tone it down when I had said nothing at all. I had struggled in ways I never imagined before but am glad I had.

Monday was Class Day with Keynote Speaker Christopher Nolan, Director of the Dark Knight Series. Nolan’s speech was nice, but I thought other speeches were much more the highlight of the day. You see, President Eisgruber’s speech was primarily about how batman went to Princeton. I have no investment about Batman going to Princeton (okay, maybe just bragging cred), but the speech was so thoroughly entertaining. The student-elected speaker was also phenomenally entertaining. Really. One was about Mama Princeton; the other about how Princeton was Hogwarts (a part of your soul gets trapped there- Firestone Library is my horcrux).

Tuesday was Commencement Day! Mother Nature, though, must have been throughly sad, though, as it rained. A lot. All day. We went through Commencement in the rain. Outside. It was cold and miserable and sad but it was what it was. Because of the weather, most of the speeches were abridged. I especially appreciated this because the speech-givers were sitting under a tent and I was sitting in the rain. President Eisgruber’s speech was especially beautiful. I’d recommend reading it yourself here. I have included a beautiful passage below.

“When you march out FitzRandolph Gate a few moments from now, you will march into a world that urgently requires your commitment to dream audaciously. We hear a great deal these days about the need for what is practical, functional and utilitarian. I understand that. You really do have to find apartments and you do—you most certainly do—have to pay the rent. But I hope you will also find time to pursue ideals that are beautiful and profound, not just for their own sake, but because, as Alan Turing and Frederick Douglass remind us in their different ways, the beautiful and the profound are sometimes far more powerful and beneficial than all the things that the conventional world praises in the name of pragmatic utility.”

— Christopher Eisgruber, President, Princeton University


Emilie Lima Burke, A.B. ’15, Politics, Princeton University #princeton2015

A photo posted by Emilie Lima Burke (@emilielimaburke) on

After Commencement, I took the typical pictures- one with mom, one with boyfriend, one with dad, one with sister, one with mom and dad, one with mom and dad and sister, one with mom and sister, one with dad and sister, one with sister and boyfriend, repeat all with diploma- before heading out to lunch at Despaña of Princeton. After a wonderful Tapas lunch, we had to pack up my entire dorm (aka my life) and load the two cars and the truck to move back home… all in the rain.

In one way, I’m glad it’s done. In another, I know I’ll miss it. For now, though, I’m looking forward to not having to write a paper in the immediate future.

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