I feel bad for all the 2020 graduates from all levels and kinds of education. Unfortunately, every graduate this year will be forced to already start learning lessons for the next stages of their lives, without being able to celebrate finishing this last era. The first “real-world” lesson? Adaptability: how to adjust and work with what you got. And this Memphis father seemed to combine teaching lessons and celebrating accomplishments all in one sitting.
Torrence Burson, a Memphis native, probably didn’t mean to make a lesson out of this. In fact, all he was trying to do was celebrate his daughter, Gabrielle Pierce, for graduating from Xavier University of Louisiana with a public health science degree, specializing in epidemiology. So Burson, like many parents of 2020 graduates, created an entire graduation ceremony for Gabrielle in place of Xavier University’s cancellation.
However, he didn’t do just the bare minimum to re-create the actual graduation ceremony. And this college graduation was most definitely an adjustment from the real one. But here’s where a lesson can be applied.
Gabrielle’s own personal graduation ceremony was on their driveway, basically in the front yard of their Memphis home, complete with a stage, podium, and a couple of seats for the supporting audience. It was so official, Burson created an entire program with the works: a procession, an invocation, the national anthem (which the program jokingly mentioned that Whitney Houston would be singing), a welcome, a song, a commencement address, and the awarding of Gabrielle’s degree.
His personalized program even went into detail about the Tennessee senior’s accolades, previewed in Blavity,
“Gabrielle graduated from Southwind High School in 2015 with the ambition to attend The Illustrious Xavier University of Louisiana to achieve a degree in Biology Pre-Medicine. During her junior year of college, she decided to go into another direction of medicine by deciding to go into Public Health Science for Epidemiology. After all the trials and tribulations she went through, she completed college with 130 credit hours,” the program continued. “She now plans to join the Armed forces to accomplish her end goal of working for the CDC.”
We may not be able to change what’s currently happening in the world because of COVID-19. But what we can do is adjust and adapt. And when you willingly adjust to working with what life gives you, the end result might even be better than what was originally planned.
I won’t speak for graduates in saying that these make-shift graduation ceremonies are better than what their own college graduation ceremonies would’ve been like. But I will say, it’s endearing to see how much effort Gabrielle’s father put in to not only honor her with a chance to walk a stage but with a more personal way of doing so, really highlighting the person he’s proud of her becoming.