Monday, May 24, 2010

The Graduates

Key West -- 'Tis the season for graduations and this year I got to celebrate, too.

My commencement was at Rutgers and I got to wear a regal crimson gown and black velvet hat. I loved parading around in it.

George now calls me Dr. J. It's not my first honorary degree. That was at Mount Holyoke College -- see my commencement blog of Friday, May 29, 2009 titled SAT (For Better or Worse). But because I grew up in New Jersey, being honored by Rutgers has special meaning.

I have Susan Wilson to thank for this. Susie was my champion. She's the one who sparked my interest in Answer and Sexetc. Because of her I serve on the Advisory Board of this important organization which is part of the Center for Applied Psychology at Rutgers. Thanks, Susie!

But back to Rutgers and my memories of spending weekends there, bunking with students at Douglas College (Rutgers' sister school in the days when the two schools were segregated by sex), and going to fraternity parties with boys. I never learned to like the taste of beer but not drinking didn't stop me from having fun. (I'm sure I had more fun than the kids who got drunk and sick. Ugh!)

Who would have imagined then, that fifty years later I'd be back for an honorary degree? For anyone interested, below is a video.

And you know what the best thing about it was? I didn't have to give a commencement address. So I could relax, enjoy, and listen while Eleanor Smeal, former president of NOW spoke. She focused on the fiftieth anniversary of The Pill and how it changed the lives of women. Can you believe it's been fifty years?

I have no idea who gave the commencement address at my high school graduation in 1956, nor do I remember a thing he/she said. I remember only clutching the hand of my best friend, Mary Sullivan (lucky for us we were seated next to each other, connected by the alphabet - Sullivan and Sussman). Her hand was clammy. I think we wore white. I have no memory of receiving my diploma. And four years later, when I graduated from NYU, I skipped commencement. My diploma arrived by mail. I was married with a baby by then. I felt too grown up for graduation. Little did I know! Which is why, I think, all these graduations mean so much to me.

So congratulations graduates everywhere -- you made it! And now, another beginning. I wish you all the best.