All the Pomp, Most of the Circumstance

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:47 AM

I've been behind on blogging about what I've been up to, so let's go back to May for a second. Because of some complications, I'll be finishing up my BA in December rather than in time for the traditional May graduation. The problem is, at least at LU, there is no ceremony in December. To remedy that, the powers that be allow December graduates to “walk” in May, which I did on May 20.

It was a nice enough experience, complete with all kinds of cord-y and tassle-y goodness. Unwittingly, I ended up being especially “colorful” at the Baccalaureate ceremony the night prior to the commencement. Due to low attendance to the Baccalaureate, the administration merged that ceremony with the graduate student commencement. Apparently, virtually all of the undergrads thought it was only a graduate ceremony, so only two undergraduates — myself being one — showed up. Unlike the undergraduate programs, the graduate programs do not offer much in the way of cords for honors, so here I was with my cords and double tassel (representing two majors) in the midst of a bunch of people in just black with one tassel. Everyone kept asking me exactly what I had done to get all the colorful garb. One group actually picked a leader to come over and query me about it. “I'm an undergrad.” That pretty much took care of the curiosity. I blended in a bit better the next morning in the undergrad commencement.

The truly priceless moment, however, was when my one professor saw me. The program called for all of the graduate students to march in with the faculty applauding them, followed immediately behind by undergraduates. As one of just two undergrads at the Baccalaureate, my one professor did not realize why I was there when he saw me (several others knew I was going to be there and so they weren't surprised). His eyes grew very large and he said “You're getting a masters degree!?!?” Given that he was just a week away from receiving his Ph.D., I'm sure he was concerned if I was already finishing my masters while taking undergrad classes I might try to beat him on my dissertation too. ;)

Ah, what fun. Probably the best part was seeing my professors in their academic regalia. My mother nabbed a number of pictures that have various professors in them, which will make for a nice keepsake in the years to come.

At first, I was going to title this “All the Pomp, None of the Circumstance,” but that isn't quite true. I've completed one hour more than required to graduate (129 of 128), but if I called it quits now I'd have only my religion major. Next semester I will complete my English major and Philosophy minor. I think those additions are well worth the extra six months.

IN OTHER NEWS, I completed my application to Covenant Theological Seminary this week. Hopefully they'll accept me, although I am working on some alternative applications in case things don't work out in that direction. Once the application becomes available for a January start date, I'll be applying to Princeton Theological Seminary and I am also considering applying to St. Louis University's Philosophy of Religion program. Both PTS and SLU have five year Ph.D.-track programs that seem appealing. We'll see how that goes; a lot of the decision will be driven by what kind of financial arrangements the schools offer.

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