8 Jun 2009
This past week, my dad and grandparents drove up from Texas for my graduation. This was their first visit to my house in Virginia, and I must admit that I felt a certain satisfaction showing them my own house and household for the very first time. For me, it was a minor milestone in life. Before heading to Boston, we traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the graves of my grandfather’s brother and sister-in-law. It was a very moving experience, and made Arlington more personally meaningful to me. Arlington manages to capture both a sense of awe and peace in a way few places can.
We stayed at the Seagull Inn Bed and Breakfast in Marblehead. It was a wonderful place on Marblehead Neck with great owners. Thursday morning, we took the T into Cambridge for my “hooding” ceremony, where the PhD recipients were presented with their hoods. In the words of Chancellor Clay, “in the tip of your hood, you will find a pocket, where you may keep a small book, a sandwich, ….or perhaps your iPod.”
Receiving my hood after almost seven years of work was an amazingly satisfying experience. I was both amazed and humbled to look across the room to see 600 other PhD students, who all struggled to complete their dissertations and make new and original contributions to their fields. Such an amazing amount of work and knowledge was recognized on that day: “the work required for a Ph.D. from MIT is, as we say….non-trivial.” I felt honored to be among so many bright minds, yet also motivated to continue the work that I have begun. Funny as it sounds, I reflect on an award I was given while a Boy Scout, the Vigil Honor: “this award is given not for what you have done, but for what you will do.” While a Ph.D. is explicitly given for what I have done, the time I’ve spent working at MIT has prepared me for so much more. I felt as the hood was placed on my shoulders that an edict to go forth and change the world was given to me. While this charge seems to be a staple at graduations of all sorts across the country, for the first time, I felt that I finally have the tools, resources, and knowledge to truly effect real change in the world in which I operate. This is it; there are no more excuses. I’m no longer waiting on the world to change.
Philosophizing aside, I was so thankful to be able to share the experience with my family and friends. My personal road through this wasn’t the smoothest, and without their constant love, help, and support (with special recognition to Summer, of course), this wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you is never enough!