My first surprise was how to wear pieces of the doctoral regalia. I was shocked to realize how little I knew about graduation regalia, its significance, or the order that graduates wear the gown, cap or velvet tam, the tassel, and the hood. At least the cap or velvet tam was the easy one to wear, I thought. I, however, learned that the tassel is dangled on the right side of the velvet tam before the hooding ceremony and switched to the left side after the hooding service. The hood is only worn at the hooding ceremony and not before it. The regalia dress code or protocol stems from a long-held royal tradition. Doctoral degree holders make up only 2% of the United States population. That makes one understand the propensity to dress this group of graduates in fancy attire distinguishable from others that master’s degree and bachelor’s degree holders wear. Mariam Webster’s Dictionary defines regalia as “the emblems, symbols, and unique paraphernalia indicative of royalty or decorations or insignia indicative of an office or membership.”
My second surprise was the theme. It was awe-inspiring and motivational. Speakers called on graduates to use their superior education to help others, create a path that others can follow, think big, work hard, and achieve their goals. The Keynote speaker, Ilyasah Shabazz, the Daughter of Malcolm X, challenged the graduates to live an honest life. Malcolm X’s life exemplified the paragon of honesty and tireless pursuit for universal justice and freedom for all, a legacy Ilyasah Shabazz continues to advocate. We often hear these words spoken at commencement gatherings, but at the NCU graduation ceremony this year, selfless commitment to helping others was what gives true meanings to the doctorate. NCU has already produced the smartest, most brilliant, and selfless graduates that have contributed so much to making the world a better place. Ginna Guiang-Myers, Ph.D., and Mike Clumpner, Ph.D., are cases in point. The two NCU alumni and many others have continued to set the bar very high. I have the feeling that NCU President, along with the Provost, will be disappointed when NCU graduates do not start using their advanced knowledge to change the human condition or create paths that others can emulate. They sincerely believe that their graduates have a better chance to change the world if they work hard enough; they are guided and trained by some of the best subject matter connoisseurs or experts the world has ever produced.
The third surprise was the graduation statistics. Out of the total 1,631 graduates this year, 65% are female and 35% male. 94% of the graduates earned master’s degrees or doctorate.
Six years ago, when I decided to embark on the journey to pursue a Ph.D., I did a lot of research for a university that offers doctoral programs in business administration, technology, and project management. I was surprised to find Northcentral University a perfect fit for my career goals. It provides precisely was I was looking for, and more, including a diverse faculty, a well-equipped state-of-the-art library, and folks who are willing, ready, and well-prepared to help me succeed. What a great institution of higher learning!