I will never forget the first year I marched with my Ph.D. regalia. You have to remember that one of the chief reasons anyone gets her Ph.D. is because geeks so rarely have the best attire in the room. But on graduation day, you really rock with those colorful giant hoods and the groovy tams.
I was the “youngest” Ph.D. and so I marched in next to the oldest — Dr. Panosian. He was always one of my favorite teachers as an undergrad with his sonorous voice and wise words. Dignity on two feet. He oozed a professorial persona. I was always in awe of him.
And here, while singing that sentimental hymn, I marched in with him. A green Ph.D. with folded wrinkles still in my unbesmirched tri-velveted gown. He joked in the line when we were supposed to be quiet. He made gracious small talk to his former HI 101 nobody. He was really charming. And I was struck that I had the honor of honoring those 2002 graduates alongside him.
His wife had been my office mate. I will never forget those two short semesters sitting alongside her in that crowded office. “Some of those WCTU speeches would drive you to drink!” HA! “Remember, Camille, it’s our job to help them find God’s will in their lives.” I still try to channel the spirit of Mrs. Panosian when I sit in front of my sophomore majors deciding their potential in my department. I was never her student, but I always count her as my friend.
And now as my EN102 teacher and I are “sparring” online, I think back. What other way can I come alongside these pillars of the Faith, these bulwarks in the Life of the Mind, if it hadn’t been for my stint in higher education?
I’m honored that I am a peer to those great people while I make my own students my peers.