Stephen Colbert for the win. Forever.
Commencement was yesterday, and it was an amazing day. Hot, but amazing. It wasn’t the hottest Commencement we’ve ever had, I don’t think, but it was pretty warm in the sun.
Hard to complain about the heat when you have Stephen T. Colbert delivering a wonderful Commencement speech. This was no canned speech either – it was peppered with references to life at Wake Forest, our traditions, our people, and he even took a couple of swings at the schools in blue down the road east of us (I was already a shameless fangirl prior to his speech, but I admit to you I love him even more now). He got laughs at times and was serious at times. If you didn’t livestream it yesterday, you can watch his speech (and the whole Commencement ceremony) online. Stephen Colbert begins right around the 59 minute mark. I can’t do justice to it, you’ll have to watch it yourself.
Aside: on Facebook lastnight, I saw this picture of Stephen Colbert at Bib’s, a wonderful BBQ place downtown. I would have loved to see the looks on the faces of Bib’s staff as he walked in.
Speaking of pictures, there are tons of great ones on the Commencement photo archive, including this one, which might be the best crowd view that I have ever seen. One of the new parts of Commencement was the giant stage, which had jumbotrons on them. During the wait for the ceremony to begin, you could see tweets that were being tweeted by guests as well as graduates. There is a nice recap of social media online too.
We also had a rousing Baccalaureate speech. Almost immediately after it was over, I was starting to get emails from parents who were praying it had been recorded. Yes, it was recorded and is online here. (About the videos, I have had a couple of people tell me they try to click the Play button and it says ‘the event has ended’ and they can’t watch it. If that happens, try refreshing the web page and click it again.)
There were a couple of really poignant moments during the Commencement ceremony. There were members of the Class of 2015 who had passed away and were posthumously awarded degrees. Their family members accepted in their honor, and it was heartbreaking and wonderful at once. And I witnessed so many hugs, and waves to parents, and smiles, and tears – a million family moments – that you could just tell were special based on the looks on faces. Then there were the hugs from classmate to classmate, the meeting-of-the-significant-other’s-extended-family, or kisses between romantic partners. Perhaps my favorite was the toddler of a graduate student (maybe law or med school) who saw his father in his cap and gown and proudly said in a toddler’s voice as he pointed to his own chest “I graduate!”
So many Wake Foresters. So many moments. Such pride and joy – for you, and for us. We rejoice in their graduation the same way you do.
And if you are a P’15 graduating parent or family member, please know we welcome you to stay as involved at Wake as you wish to be. You’ll always be part of the family, just like your graduates.
One final bit of Commencement data for all the wonks among us. Yesterday during Commencement, the Quad Cam was viewed by people in 137 foreign countries and 4 US territories, spanning from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The most populated country that had someone click on the Quad Cam was China, with a 1.36 billion population; the viewing country with the lowest population was the Turks and Caicos, population 49,000 and change. Special thanks to my colleague Rob Daniels for supplying me with the numbers!
— by Betsy Chapman