Saturday, 11 June 2011


As of June 8th, 2011, I am officially "Carla Muriel Heinrichs, B.A." I have a neat hat, a piece of incredibly important paper, and four point five years of classroom education, among other things.


Procrastinator that I am, I've been meaning to get my hair cut for at least six months. You know it's too long when it tries to strangle you while you swim and the first thing your cousins say upon seeing you for the first time in half-a-year is "Whoa! Your hair is long!" Figuring that I'd rather stop procrastinating than spend the rest of my life groaning and smacking my forehead every time I look at my graduation pictures, I finally picked up the phone and made an appointment for 3:45 pm the day before convocation.

When I got there for the appointment, the woman told me that they had mistakenly scheduled me for the next day, instead - which was after the ceremony.

"Uh, that won't work," I said, wondering if Supercuts is worth the risk. Would it be better to look like I have a half-eaten hay bale glued to my head, or to look like I purposely meant to be making a "cutting edge" fashion statement?

"How about 6:45 tonight?" the woman said. "It won't be the same stylist, but it's the first opening we have. I'm terribly sorry."

So I went back to work, came home, said hi to some out-of-town family, and promptly blew them off to go back to the salon. The new stylist was very good, though. I like my new hair. Should have done this ages ago.


I got a text from a male friend (the only other person I really knew in the group of 418 that were convocating with me):

One nice thing about this is being able to wear jeans and a t shirt cuz its all under the gown thing lol

I went to pick up my gown and degree before the ceremony, hoping I'd have time left over to get my pictures done before the actual event. Upon putting on the gown, I admired the way my cute shoes went with the outfit. Then I noticed the length of the gown. Knowing he was already on campus, I texted my friend back:

Yeah, the robes don't go down to your ankles, so you might want to roll up your jeans.

He responded rather quickly:

Lol nothing doing I don't want bare legs

Oh, yeah. Guys and girls are different that way.


Before we paraded in, the woman tasked with reading all our names (I have no idea how long she must have practiced!) came down the lines.

"Does anyone have a name they think I might have trouble with?" she asked.

"/'hɑjnɹıks/," I said, fearing a /'hεndɹıks/ or a /'hɑjnɹıtʃ/.

"/'hɑjnɹıks/?" she replied.

"Yes," I said, "H-E-I-N-R-I-C-H-S. /'hɑjnɹıks/."

"Ok. I had that one marked," she admitted as she moved on.

It was a class of 419 students, and the ceremony went a little over an hour and half. I somehow ended up being fourth in the academic procession, though I was certainly not fourth to cross the stage. Yet when I finally found myself up there, smiling for the photographer, the woman remembered my name.

"Carla Muriel /'hɑjnɹıks/," she announced, "With distinction." I was pleased and slightly surprised that she not only remembered Heinrichs, but also pronounced Muriel properly, as /'mjǝɹiǝl/, rather than with the seemingly standard but incorrect /'mʊɹiǝl/. University professors on the whole tend to do pretty well in the name pronunciation department.

And apparently the Chancellor was listening carefully to this woman while he was shaking hands and making small talk, or else he was good at reading the names on the degrees prominently displayed by the graduates gleefully crossing the stage toward him.

"Congratulations, Carla," he said as he shook my hand. "Are you relieved to be done?"

I can't remember what I replied, but I do remember there was a whole whack of other people lined up just off the stage to congratulate me... and the other graduates, of course.


The speaker gave a goofy speech about how important it is to be selfish and self-absorbed (she actually used those words) in order to change the world, but the rest of the ceremony was good. The mace-brandishing looked a bit silly, as did the higher-levels of academic dress, but tradition is tradition.

When it was over, we took pictures outside. I handed off my degree to someone for some of the shots. I then proceeded to freak out about five minutes later when I realized that I didn't know its precise location anymore.

"Where's my degree?" I exclaimed, "Who has my degree?!"

"I'm holding it," said my grandma, who had come down from Regina specifically for my (and my cousin's) convocation.

I looked to verify her statement just in time to see a glimmer in her eyes and a sly smile spread across her face.

"Say..." she mused, "I have a degree! It's not that hard to get a degree! I have a degree from the University of Calgary!"

At least she didn't mug me to get it.


Just thought I'd mention that mom also made my most favourite salad in the world to help celebrate when we got home - strawberry spinach!

All this to say that I am now an "alumni" of the U of C. It makes me feel distinguished, and perhaps just a tiny bit old. Not to mention a tad miffed that my access to their library is now considerably more restricted. But I'M GRADUATED! I'M GRADUATED! I'M GRADUATED!

For a while, anyway...

As cliche of a grad quote as it may be:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own and you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss

Assuming, of course, that God doesn't zot you with lightning to keep you from choosing incorrectly...


CavDawg said...


Art said...

It was a delightful ceremony although I must admit that if you weren't graduating, I probably would not have gone to it.

Anyway: YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!