I can officially say, I’m an NYU Graduate!!! Today was the last graduation ceremony I attended to commemorate my 4 years as an NYU undergraduate. From the Dean’s Awards Ceremony (5.4) to the Chemistry Department Graduation (5.10)) to CAS Baccalaureate (5.11) to the final Commencement (5.12), I had an amazing time with family, friends, and faculty!
At the Chemistry Graduation/Reception, I received my “unofficial,” paper diploma from the department and recognition for several Chemistry Honors that were given out at the Dean’s Awards Night. I had the chance to hang out with my long-time chemistry buddies, toast champagne with my parents and friends, and shake hands with all the faculty members, who I’ve visited too often during office hours 😉 Since I have taught General Chemistry clinics and lab since sophomore year, I had a close chat with Professor Halpin and Rugg, both super great individuals.
Next came the CAS Baccaulaureate (5.11.10) at Radio City Music Hall. I sported my vibrant violet gown over super comfortable leggings and a cute, frilled tank from Express. The black cap poached unstably atop my size 7 head, with my dangling gold tassel. At least I can say I was on the Radio City Music Hall performance stage!!! I sat there with several commendable friends-Tharani, David, and John, beneath the exploding white lights and behind all the action up front. I could only watch the speeches and performances from the TV. Over 400 out of roughly 1200 students had the honorable seats on stage, though it was very long and boring. The longest segment, of course, was the naming of every single CAS student (who showed up) and procession up to the deans on stage. We ended up chatting, texting, joking, and napping; it helped to pass the time. For 21 years, I never realized another pun on name, courtesy of John: Connie Y. Yu (behind my ticket for the announcer up front) = Connie Why You? Well would it not sound amusing when the announcer called out name to the audience? But, the all-time classic was when one student handed his ticket to the dean and proceeded across as the Dean said “Optimus Prime” (apparently, from the Transformers)… Just earlier, David and I were wondering what would happen if we whited-out the name on the ticket and wrote “Boy of Destiny.” Technically, John could have done it because he had a blank card. Oh, it was a classic moment.
To reflect on one of the speakers, Professor Waley-Cohen of the East Asian Studies Department, I wanted to mention her discussion of Chinese culture and traditions. She studied extensively on ancient Chinese history, so I’m also assuming she knows the language more than I’ve accumulated over 20 years. I caught the part about multiple meanings in the Chinese language, and for an example, she mentioned 家 (“jia”). It can translate to house, home, family, a person engaged in a certain art or profession, or measure word for stores and schools. Confusing right? Welcome to Mandarin, because this is only one example. Anyway, back in the Confucian times, the home and family were equated with the state and government. Respect, duty, and love were aspects of family relationships that also extended to the well-being and integrity of the country. Recall filial piety? Recall the bidirectional superior/inferior ends of the hierarchy? Similarly, the Taoist principles emphasized the interwoven network of life, nature, heaven and earth. Everything and everyone is connected, someplace, somehow, someday. We’ve all heard about the 3 degrees of separation among the Asian crowd- someone knows someone else, at one point or another, from class or some random food event. Anyway, my point is, we are based on relationships, and that’s what I want to take away with me from college. I’ve made the most incredible and diverse set of friends since entering NYU. They have become like family to me, and I do not want to forget them, because they are just as important as family. I have many photos to look back and hold in my memories- karaoke, restaurant outings, clubbing, random Asian cultural events, baking and cooking, and other adventures. They have defined what it means to enjoy life in addition to completing higher education. We should not forget that life is meant to be lived. And we should forever remember our old and new connections, all the people that enter in our lives (friends, family, professors, co-workers, neighbors, even strangers), and the meaning of life. Life should not be about money or luxury, it should be about love, gratitude, and giving. This is what I’d like to share with the friends I’ve made at NYU, where I’ve matured significantly over the years.