The Graduate Reunion.

Graduate Reunion

Can you hear the ‘D’?

It’s always great when a former student drops in to say “hi”, years after they have graduated. As I was thinking about the recent grad ceremonies, I vaguely recall a ‘Graduate Reunion’ that occurred several years ago (‘vaguely’, because I went to a lot of rock concerts in the 70’s – remember sneaking in those wine skins full of ‘Baby Duck’?). As you read to the end of this post, this particular reunion may bring a smile to your face, as I’m pretty sure we’ve all done or seen a similar thing, especially for anyone that has ever worked with others to produce advertising and marketing materials or has taught English courses.

Usually, outside of office hours, I have my door closed so I can get some work done without interruption. There was a knock on the door, but it wasn’t the ‘secret knock’ that I tell our administrators to use, so I knew it wasn’t them. I needed an excuse to take a break from marking assignments, so I opened the door. Standing there was the former student. It was assumed that I remembered his name, based on the fact that he started conversing non-stop as soon as the door opened. Even the time-line when he was a student was a bit of a blur to me (it happened to be about 5 years). I think this ‘blurring’ occurs because we see so many different students graduate over the years and, over time, forget the specific year each ‘group’ graduates. I’ve had situations where I thought someone had graduated years before, when only to find out, it was only the previous year! Anyway, he came into my office, sat down on the black ‘school stacking’ chair (budget cuts?), and I began asking him what he’d been up to since he was a student.

As he sat there talking, I still couldn’t remember his name, and the conversation was in full talk-mode at this point anyway, so it was too late to go back and ask. Plus, I teach about ‘memory techniques’, so that wouldn’t have looked very good. If only I had used the ‘flashing name on the forehead’ technique back then, I’m sure I would have remembered! As he talked about a small part-time business he had started after college, I began having brief flashbacks about him, and recalled that although he wasn’t necessarily an ‘academically strong’ student, he did attend most classes and had showed enthusiasm, which, in my books, is more important than the final ‘grade’ they end up with. He continued to talk, telling me how he remembered many of the lessons that I taught in class and how he applied them in his own business. He even recalled some of the material, right down to the specific class; “I remember in the advertising class, you told us…” We talked a bit longer and I gladly gave him some more tips, which he frantically wrote down on a scrap piece of paper, and then we wrapped things up.

Before leaving, he gave me one of his company t-shirts, which I think was his way of saying, “thanks”, or it was a way of getting some free publicity for him if I wore it (I taught him that part). I held it up and looked at the front of it; it actually looked pretty good. It was easy to read, it was made from a high quality cotton fabric, and the size would fit me. Sure, I thought, I’ll wear it sometime. We shook hands and he left. I closed the door, sat down, and I stared at the pile of assignments that, unfortunately, didn’t mark themselves during the conversation. It didn’t matter, it just made me think why we spend so much of our time marking, advising, and giving constructive feedback; we simply do it so we can help our students become successful in their chosen fields.

I moved the t-shirt aside to make room for the unmarked pile of assignments. As I did this, I noticed that there was also writing on the back of the t-shirt. I held it up to read it, after all, if I was going to be a walking billboard, I should know what it says. As I read the back of the shirt, something remarkable caught my eye. Was it the excellent choice of font? Was it the cool screen print effects? Or…was it the typo? I’m pretty sure, ‘Landscaping’, has a letter ‘d’ in it? Sigh.

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