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When it comes to commencement, Ross Shideler has come full circle. Too "jaded" and "sophisticated" to attend his own graduations, the comparative literature and Scandinavian professor is now passionate about the ceremonies where his own students graduate. ross1

The ceremonies are important, he believes, because they're rites of passage. "I like to envision life as a series of arcs. Ceremonies such as commencement really mark where you end and begin another arc and phase of your life."

But more than that, it's a time for celebration. "It's quite beautiful to see so many people proud of the graduate," he said. "You can see the excitement and joy and sense of satisfaction in some of the graduating students — that they have done something for themselves and for their families."

It wasn't until a few years ago that Shideler first participated in commencement. He felt obligated to go, and his wife, Graduate Division Associate Dean Kathleen Komar, often went.

"The moment I did, I thought, 'This was so stupid of me not to do this before,' " said Shideler, who has attended every Humanities commencement since. "I really miss the fact that I didn't do it for myself."

As teachers, explained Shideler, the undergraduate adviser for comparative literature, faculty also feel fulfilled to see their students finish.

A true convert, now he mourns the fact that more faculty don't go and thinks that a percentage of faculty from every department should attend. "Students like to see their faculty there. It's important that faculty from every department go and cheer with the students, especially in the smaller departments. The Scandinavian department is so small, if I don't go, I feel like I let them down.

"These are rare moments in life," said Shideler. "We should take more time in our lives to celebrate them."

Amy Ko

Media Contact