As I've said before, I'm a very lucky guy to work in the book industry. Every single day I am surrounded by something I am very passionate about: books and book people.
But ever since 2006 when I moved into the world of academic bookselling, I've been privileged to experience the joys and thrills of two of the defining moments of the student experience. Those first introductory days on campus (or at least the seeking out the required textbook aspect of it), and the celebratory ritual of graduation.
This week at work we've been involved in the June Convocation. Our university bookstore is involved in convocation to offer complimentary gowning for the students and faculty as well as caps for the Masters, PhD students and academic procession.
While the days are long (I had to be there for setup at 5 AM on Monday) and there are moments when it is extremely busy, working at Convocation is one of the highlights of the year. It is an absolute blast to get the students into their gowns and then help them find their way to the next post where they'll get the appropriate coloured hoods for the department they're graduating from. Everyone is beaming with big smiles and nervous energy, and like that first visit to the bookstore, I'm honoured with the thrill of offering them guidance and support.
At Convocation, we also have a booth to sell degree and portrait frames, McMaster crested merchandise and other items to help them remember their years of hard work and study. With it we offer complimentary framing. Watching the smiles almost bursting with pride of students and their parents as you hold up the frame holding their newly earned diploma is a very fine moment and one that very often brings me close to tears.
I'm not sure why -- since, except for the students I know, either through having served them repeatedly through their time on campus or from having worked with them, most of them are complete strangers. But I can certainly remember what it was like to reach graduation day and the pride that I and my parents felt that fine afternoon. It was 16 years ago since my own graduation, but helping gown the students, watching them take pictures with their families and loved ones and sharing in the moment certainly brings it all back to me and makes me feel young again.
So, in honour of feeling young, I present a photo taken from one of my first days in university when I'd moved into a shared house in Ottawa back in 1988 -- yikes, 20 years ago. I'd originally been searching the archives for a picture of me at graduation, but this one is a lot more fun.
In the photo are my cousin and roommate Rodney, me (look I had hair back then, but it's clear I was just as nerdy back then if not more so), roommate Maureen (my buddy Taki's girlfriend), Tammy (Rodney's girlfriend) and Taki. Oh, and in the back beside me and behind Tammy and Maureen, well that's Gumby, dammit)