Debbie (debmats) wrote,

Paul's Graduation

Today has been declared SUNDAY - NO SUN DAY. I iz fried. Yesterday, we were outside in the sun from just before 9am until almost 5pm - majority of that time was spent WAITING. At 5pm, the temp was 97 degrees. And I had to walk on grass all day. Lots of grass. Why? Because Paul, my sorta nephew, was graduating from UC Merced. The reason for the long time in the sun? Security! Michelle Obama, our First Lady, was giving the commencement speech. =)

Even with lots of sunscreen and multiple reapplications, we all got a bit burned. Repeated announcements to drink lots of water and thousands of bottles of water were passed out to the audience during the entire time. There were several water booths where they encouraged people to take multiple bottles or even a case to pass around. People were wearing the water bottle case boxes as hats. There was very little shade unless you wanted to leave the secured area - but you'd have to go through security all over again to return.

We got the campus around 8:30 - Paul had to be there by 9am. Then we waited in line to go through security. As Thi had already opened up her pint sized carton of goldfish, security made her throw it away. Security was very strict, but not as bad as I thought it would be. They quickly looked through my purse (just like they do at the gate at the baseball game) and I walked through the metal detectors. Lots of people didn't get the message about unopened bottles and those were all confiscated at the gate.

We got seats about 20 rows from the stage, on the left. The first 16-17 rows were for graduates and faculty. There were just over 500 graduating students, and they filled the first sections on the left and right and all of the center section.

Then the long wait. Mom Burns would have never made it through the 4 hour wait plus the 3 hour ceremony. The EMT's were busy. Lots of people with heat exhaustion and worse. Thi was one unhappy camper. The elderly woman and the gentleman in the wheelchair two rows down were attended by EMTs several times, but they finally gave up - the woman was escorted out during the keynote speech.

During the pre-ceremony, there were some lovely vocal performances. I didn't catch their names and they aren't named in the program. The Prayer, Climb Every Mountain, This Is The Moment, To Where You Are and Time To Say Goodbye.

1:33pm. FINALLY!!!! On with the ceremony! Pomp and Circumstance!

Enjoyed Steve Kang's chancellor's address "In the Beginning, a Dream".

The First Lady is introduced by Richard Blum, Chairman of the Regents of the University of California (also Dianne Feinstein's husband)

Really enjoyed Michelle Obama's speech. She has a way of making you feel like she's just talking to you - very down to earth. Her speech in can be found here.

She had to leave right after her speech. The two secret service agents in suits disappeared off the stage. The one agent in gown and graduate hood who'd been following her the entire time did too. I didn't check the two buildings behind us, so I don't know if the snipers left at that time or not.

Yup, you could tell the security had all but disappeared. People were walking down the aisles, blocking views so they could take their pictures. Ushers tried hard, but it ended up like a high school graduation. Graduates were presented, tassels were switched (from right to left or was it left to right?) and the ceremony was finally over.

Sony & Val were not doing too well at this time. Sony had the shakes. Thi had gotten her second wind after a short nap and the fact that she could squirt me with the fan/mist-er. I just wanted an icy diet pepsi and a chance to lie down.

Rather than going out to dinner immediately, everybody headed back to home or hotel for showers and a quick rest. Dinner was at Round Table Pizza in Madera. Sony, Dave, Thi, Paul, Valerie, me, Karen plus Valerie's grandparents Soccoro & Max, her mom Elisa, brother Chris, Uncle Victor & Aunt Alice, Veronica, Johnny, Jacob (Paul & Valerie's ring bearer - he's such a doll!), Marnie and Frank. Tom was up in Eureka with Mom Burns and Tadesse couldn't make it because he's in rehearsal for a performance. (Tadesse would have been able to go if the ceremony had been at 7pm) I may see Sony & company on Friday for Tadesse's performance.

We all crashed afterwards, though Thi & Dave went swimming for a bit.

Saw Dave briefly when we checked out. He'd been out for a run and was getting his complimentary continental breakfast (costco muffins). We were on the road by 7:15 - K had a Taiko drum class at 10am that she needed to be back for.

Tags: friends, graduation

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