So yesterday was Dr. G's commencement marking the awarding of his Ph.D. It was an amazing day!
Sally got here about 9:30 to watch my kids. She is an ANGEL! We left about 9:35 thinking we could get to campus by 10 (the prescribed arrival time for grads). Oops, we forgot about thousands of others with the same thought. We arrived there (usually a 6 - 8 minute drive) at about 10:35. YIKES! Clearly though the planners built in plenty of cushion time 'cause Dr. G. was fine.
Then my father in law (henceforth FIL) and I stood in line for a little while to buy t shirts and talked with a nice family from Los Banos (nearby) whose daughter was graduating in biology. Got shirts for G and me and the two older boys - no shirts in littles' sizes. What a missed opportunity! I totally would have forked over the $17.50 for each one!
Then we went through security to get into the library. I was thinking we could go see a photography exhibit on the 3rd and 4th floors but they were closed off. So FIL got a coffee and we just sat down in the cafe area for a while. It was crowded - we were lucky to get a booth. FIL saw the chancellor of UC Merced and marched right up to introduce himself. Very in character. The chancellor of course was very gracious and kind - he is awesome. Very well loved by the students and it's because he is so friendly and open with everyone.
About 12:15 I went upstairs for my meet and greet. There were a lot of VIPs there - elected officials, UC Regents, etc., and then a few people from the community who supported the campaign (that was my group). They called us into a classroom and had us line up at the back. There was a TON of staff and Secret Service. They had a little curtain set up with the U.S. flag and the CA flag. Michelle came in from another room where she had been with the electeds. SO pretty in person, just classy and lovely. She wore a black sleeveless dress and very pretty black low-heeled pumps. Then they just brought us up one by one to meet her. I shook her hand, she hugged me, I told her I was so honored to meet her and I hoped she had a wonderful day in Merced. She said thanks for your support. They did not want us to take our own pictures so I have to wait until the White House sends me mine from their official photographer. I hope it doesn't take too long! I am so eager!
So then I went back downstairs to get FIL and we went to stand in the security line to get into commencement, which was outdoors in a bowl-shaped amphitheater. The line was pretty long and we had just left to get in a shorter line when they closed our line down entirely. So we were lucky to get in the shorter line when we did. But then they shut down all access while they got Mrs. Obama into the amphitheater area. So, we waited and waited! UC Merced had people come by handing out bottled water - good thinking! It was definitely getting very hot by this time! The high yesterday was around a hundred degrees.
Once the line moved again they had all 40 (!!!) metal detectors going and it went very fast. So we just went in and grabbed a seat. It was kind of over on the side, not the very best view of the stage. But the jumbotrons worked great.
The good part is, the official party processional came in on our side so I did get to watch the first lady walk in and got some pictures. It was truly exciting.
So (skipping ahead past a lot of the usual commencement stuff) Mrs. Obama's speech was outstanding, very inspiring. It was all about service - remembering those who have paved the way for you and those who need you to pave the way for them. I can't wait to find the entire text online and reread it. They announced that they are naming a children's garden for her on campus - Michelle Obama's Garden for Young Children. I loved that because of her focus on her own kids right now with her husband in the presidency and her careers'emphasis on reaching out to children to encourage them to pursue higher education. It's a great fit. They also awarded her the Chancellor's Medal.
After her speech a lot of people left because it was SO hot. Seriously dangerous weather. So FIL and I moved toward the center and had a better view for the next couple of things - the student speaker and the announcement of the class gift, basically major improvements to the amphitheater making it a permanent fixture of the university.
Then G was up on stage to receive his doctorate along with four other people and several Master's degree recipients. Pretty exciting moment. His advisor (what a classic kooky scientist move, very in character for her) put his hood on wrong the first time and had to redo it!
After that FIL and I went to watch the rest of the proceedings from the gym (air conditioned!) It was fun for me to see a lot of the students I worked with in my job reach the goal of getting their college degree. They are awesome young people, and I am truly excited to see what they will do in life.
It took a while to get together with G and walk down to the car - we kept seeing people and talking - and then traffic was crazy, so we got home maybe like 5:00 - 5:10. It was a long day and I could NOT get cooled down! But we got the barbecue going and made some food - we had tri-tip and corn and rolls and baby squash and strawberries and Costco cake - it was all good.
Commencements are really happy days and I always love them but this one was super special! And I cannot thank Sally enough ... it would have been really hard to have the kids on campus in that heat for such a long time. What a lifesaver!
Here are a few pictures:
Michelle walking down the ramp to the amphitheater area
Michelle at the podium ... yes, that little dot
Michelle on the Jumbotron
Dr. Glenny onstage
Dr. Glenny all official
Dr. Glenny and Dr. Glenn (his dad), talking to his mom on the phone
I will post more pictures when FIL sends me some, and of course when I get one from the White House!!!