John Marsden Writing Topic #403

Describe a significant ceremony that you’ve experienced**

The ceremony that I will be describing for this writing topic is my graduation ceremony. The reason why I’m using my graduation ceremony as it was significant to me, due to the fact that my parents were told when I was a child that I was mildly intellectually disabled and wouldn’t go beyond high school.

My graduation ceremony was held in the University Hall at the University of Wollongong (UOW). The parents and other family members were separated from the students and the students sat at the front, in a specific order. Once the students, myself included, were academically dressed and seated, the ceremony began with the entrance of esteemed university staff. The ceremony began with housekeeping issues such as asking attendees to turn off their phones (most people didn’t and as a result heaps of phones went off…so annoying!) as well as video footage that involved UOW bragging about themselves.

The ceremony continued on with musical performances, speeches and the presentation of academic documents and certificates stating that the students had all graduated. When it was my turn to go up on stage, I had to follow the queue and three UOW staff members were waiting. One staff member ticked off my name, another ticked off my name on another list and adjusted my academic dress and another directed me when to go on stage. When I went on stage, I shook the Vice Chancellor’s hand and he asked me what my plans are now that I have graduated. I told him that I was “working hard, keeping the parents proud, you know the usual.” I took my folder of documents and certificates, went down the wrong staircase and went back to my seat.

The ceremony ended with the students walking out of the Hall first, through double doors to the Hall’s entrance with numerous people forming a guard of honour and clapping. This made me emotional as the important and life-changing chapter of my life–my university years were over.


**Reference: Marsden, J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.

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