As I watched a parade of young adults receive high honors and awards at a ceremony today, my focus was, unfortunately, distracted. There was simply no way to look at these scholars without wondering how the future would treat them. Their presence at the day's Awards Ceremonies meant that they had differentiated themselves from other students. Neither their garb, nor their features predicted their proclivities or their remarkable achievements. It seemed to me that their physical forms were nothing more than homes for their enormous intellects and generous spirits. I felt the thrill of anticipation as each student mounted the steps to the stage. As we received curriculum vitae summaries, delivered by College deans in microbursts of laudatory acclaim, I was left puzzling how this student unraveled new meaning from Horace's lyricism or why that student chose to devote herself to using music as a universal language. Between the summas' and the magnas' grade point averages, there was no more than three hundreds of a point difference. How is it possible to sort, shuffle and differentiate at such a minute level? And for the class valedictorian with her 4.0 g.p.a., caps off for her concise and thoughtful comments. Her humility was not feigned. Her questions about what her place should be in the world at large is certainly a question that almost everyone I know has, at some point, pondered. I felt myself wishing her luck. Her reflections demonstrated that the Jesuit tradition is alive and well at Georgetown. I feel confident that everyone of those students today is equipped to ask questions and seek answers regardless of the path on which life takes them. Ultimately, I left the Awards Ceremony certain of three things.
A proud Mom behind those glasses.
First, this was an assembly of a group of truly gifted, hardworking graduates. Second, this particular set of students had spent four years demonstrating that they have an elite intellect, moral fiber and a real sense of humanity. Third, the particulars don't matter; the wrapping -- the exterior packaging -- seemed to have absolutely no relevance to the accomplishments. Finally, I was moved by the family and friends who came great distances to bear witness to their loved ones' achievements. Whatever the reason, no matter the season, I am convinced that there is an uplifting power that comes from people who come together to celebrate.