Getting all misty-eyed as the university students leave us…

This is spring commencement weekend at Azusa Pacific University and the campus is buzzing.  Today is the last day of finals and young men and women are beginning to say goodbye. Some of the students working in our office have completed their work, could “check out,” yet are coming back in tomorrow, delaying their departures and emotional farewells.

I have been peering out my office window this morning,  chuckling as I watch students carting accumulated debris from their shared housing bungalows to their cars or the trash, probably doing two things: 1) packing up their goods; vacating for the summer 2) cleaning up “the evidence” before their parents arrive tomorrow.

When I first arrived in 2002 I thought I’d never bond with the young adults. Preschoolers were easy, but college students?  I was wrong. I love these brilliant and hopeful young people. I hate saying goodbye and I tear-up every time. They have their whole lives ahead of them, and I celebrate their youthful exuberance. They are talented and hardworking, and for the last few years it has been very hard to see them graduate, diploma and student loans in-hand, into an uncertain employment future.

So I wanted to share today because this morning Azusa Pacific University’s Men’s Chorale performed for the first time at the National Day of Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.

The Men’s Chorale is an admired choral ensemble in the School of Music, and the 100-voice talented group of men performs regularly at churches, schools and civic organizations. There have been other notable appearances this year including a performance at the USS Missouri in Hawaii and at the Celebration of Freedom Gala, honoring 34 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library.

This morning we watched the young men perform via a live web-feed and again, near tears! We don’t always get to see our college guys decked-out in formal wear—and they look so young to me! All I could think of was what a tremendous honor it is to be chosen from all the other choirs across the nation, and how they will never forget this! Along with their wonderful director, Harold CLousing, the Men’s Chorale will now enjoy its first east coast tour.

I had hoped that there’d be a youtube glimpse of today’s performance…sometimes it’s just that fast! But no. No parents or friends in the audience to whip out an iPhone.  But I do have two clips to share from our School of Music, and I hope you might get a little lift from them. The first is a clip of the Men’s Chorus singing an Irish Blessing to a lunch crowd at a Chick-fil-A (fast food, if you don’t have them where you live), and the second a flash mob performance from the holidays. LAX invited the students to entertain weary airport travelers. I love watching the faces of those who aren’t expecting the serenade!

I simply wanted to pass along the word that despite the almost incessant messages decrying the devolution of society, often scapegoating young people, I have a lot more hope than that…I see evidence every day.

You just caught me all misty-eyed today. Debra

45 thoughts on “Getting all misty-eyed as the university students leave us…

  1. You know Debra we have another thing in common. When I was in high school (I think it was 95 or 96) I went on a mission trip with my then church to Mexcio and I think we stayed in the dorms there on our way to or from. 😀 I didn’t know you worked there. Beautiful post, I love that you get teary eyed, I do that so often 🙂

    1. I’m sure you were at APU…the Mexicali Outreach? Back in the mid-90s APU was a leader in that spring Missions Trip. My daughter went, also! I do love these students. I’m glad you have a little memory of APU…yep! I’m there three days a week. I went part-time when my granddaughters were born. I’m very fortunate that I could keep my job and still be a grandma! 🙂 Debra

  2. This is a very nice tribute to the graduates of 2012 — may they all find happy and prosperous employment. My own daughter will be a participant in the commencement exercises at Columbia College Chicago this Saturday afternoon, and I’m just so proud of her. Your young men singers are so good — they sound like big, strong angels!

    1. Congratulations, Mom! I always think that although the graduate deserves the credit for the hard academic work, so often the support they receive from their families makes all the difference in their success. So I know how much you love and support your daughter! I’m sure that Saturday is going to be a very emotional day…and simply wonderful! Debra

  3. Judy...

    What a lovely tribute, “Big, strong angels.” We’ll have to let them know! Thanks Debra… Yes, we do love them and miss them terribly, but also love to watch them spread their wings and fly… making their world better… They are precious! Now I’m crying… Judy

    1. As long as we don’t all cry at the same time! They are such wonderful young people! Even though we will now have abundant parking space for the summer…I’ll still miss them 🙂 Debra

  4. You echo my sentiments. I’m so tired of hearing people speak so ill of the young generation – they seem to enjoy picking out the most negative examples and then using them as a basis to judge all the rest. It’s so unfair and mindless. News flash: every generation has negative examples and always has had them.

    I know what you mean about the emotional farewell. Three years ago, when my daughter graduated from her wonderful college, both she and I were emotional. Of course, she was very attached to the school itself, her professors, and her friends; I’d become so fond of the school, its programs, and the students (and the location too) that I had a hard time saying goodbye, knowing we wouldn’t have a reason to visit several times a year anymore. It was the end of an era – a very important era – but the beginning of so many new, life-affirming experiences.

    Since my daughter graduated, I’ve watched her and her friends succeed in getting jobs, mature, and pursue their other talents so beautifully, even in this difficult economy. I’m proud of them all. 🙂

    1. It’s been a little longer since my children graduated, but I also loved that period in their lives–OUR lives. I loved watching some of the families arriving on campus today…lots of mini-vans and SUVs being packed up to take kids home for the summer! I remember how much I loved it when the kids came home again! Your point is well made…there have always been negative examples, but it seems to me that today’s college graduates are really exceptional. I’m really pleased to hear that your daughter has found work and is doing well…it can’t have been easy! Debra

  5. Farewell to graduating students (and those who return for another round or two by the fall). Thank you for reminding me (and others) of what the younger set can do and will do as they launch into their future. It was inspiring to hear the Male Chorale singing at the Wash, DC event, via the net link. Makes me wonder how different are the grown up grads from when they were the pre-schoolers really jumping into the world. …Ellen

    1. The good thing is we will have parking all summer…sadly, I will miss the students! The guys were just great today in Washington, weren’t they? Good thoughts about preschoolers all grown up! I saw one of my former preschool children at Trader Joes the other day! He was working there! I felt a little old 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Ellen! D

  6. As someone who works with high schoolers, I completely agree. They’re actually a pretty good bunch. Great post! Glad I found your blog tonight. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you stopped by, Emily! I have worked with preschool, elementary and now higher ed…and never high schoolers! You experience some of the same progression I enjoy watching with the college students. Students enter high school at 13/14 and leave at 18! We get them at 18 and they mature to about 22 when they graduate. So much growth! How can that be anything but exciting. Thanks so much for visiting! Debra

  7. All I can say is that you reached deep into your heart on this post. I’m guessing it was spontaneous (as opposed to planned). Well done … and thanks for the enjoyable videos.

    1. Yes, Frank, this was a spontaneous “lunch hour” post. It had been a very emotional morning. I’m glad you enjoyed the videos…I think you’d love our School of Music. The students are very talented. And I don’t know how it has happened, but they are getting younger every year! 🙂 Ha! Great young people. Thank you, Frank. Debra

  8. Yay! My reader is finally working again. I could read blogs on my phone, but commenting was next to impossible in most cases.

    This post is really touching. I can totally understand mixed feelings – being happy for people and sad to see them go. I think MTM always felt that way when he was teaching architecture. It always makes him happy to hear from former students and to know what they’re up to now.

    1. That’s exactly right, Andra. I’m so pleased to see them move on having accomplished big goals–I’ll miss them, but it’s time for them to fly! They sometimes do come back and visit, which is always heartwarming. And then there’s always Facebook! Debra

  9. I know that misty eyed feeling well. It doesn’t take much to get me there – and college kids graduating would certainly do it. 🙂 So does kids going off to college. Pre-K graduations get me too. I even get misty eyed at the kids’ school conferences. Love this post Debra.

    1. Oh yes, Kristy! I’m going to granddaughter Sophia’s preschool graduation in June and I’ll be a blubbery mess! My son was 22 when he went to Law School…he’d done his undergraduate studies from home. When he left I couldn’t go into his bedroom for about a week! LOL! We moms are just designed to see the significance in each stage of development, I think. I guess the hope is that when we get teary we don’t embarrass the kids! Ha! I’m so glad you shared this with me. Debra

  10. Lovely.. I used to be so attached to my kindergarten classes but now, as my children have grown.. I see the beauty in these young men and women. I love these videos.. they are such wonderful singers!!

    1. Thanks, Smidge! The videos I shared hardly do them justice, really! They are SO talented. One of our graduates has been Elphaba (Wicked) on Broadway, and many others have gone on to great professional careers. I’m always moved to tears when I hear them perform! Really every stage does have its special qualities! And as we go through the seasons and our children grow up, sometimes we get really lucky and have grandchildren 🙂 and we can do it again! Debra

  11. This was a touching tribute. I too get emotional when I see young people graduating either from High School or College because they are traveling into a future as adults which is a different world of experiences. I for one think the young generation of today rocks.

    1. Thanks, Fiona. I wish I could share some of the University Choir CDs with you…they are so uplifting and really inspired! I love to listen and admire the talent! I hope you have a good weekend, my friend. Debra

  12. What a wonderful job you have. What an honour to see these young men and women come into your college and watch them seemingly a short time later, walk out into the world, This post did remind me of my son who went to boarding school and how he walked in as a tiny little 12 year old and a few short years later, walked out as an optimistic young man – it does bring tears to your eyes to witness these changes that occur in an incredibly short period of time xx

    1. Maybe some of our emotion also comes into play when we think about how quickly the time passes. I know with the milestones in my own life I sometimes wish I could record and play back all the memorable moments, and of course, in the end, every day should be memorable. I’m glad we have special moments, though, to hold a little closer in our hearts. What a joy to be able to say that your son “grew up” to be an optimistic young man. That’s what I hope for these graduates…that despite all the negativity, they will remain open and optimistic and faith-filled. They have so much to look forward to if they hold onto that. Thanks for sharing, Charlie. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Debra

  13. It’s amazing how much changes as you get older, it’s a huge transformation on your relationships with family and others. In my case it has been for the better 100%. 🙂

    1. That’s a wonderful thing to share, Jen! Our perspectives surely do change over time! I think part of getting older, even a “young” older like yourself, is not taking things for granted. Our families aren’t perfect, but they are so important to us, we need to remember that every day…we need to appreciate! Have a great weekend–I’m sure you will 🙂 Debra

  14. Well, Debra, I may not know you that well but, having said that, I would have been surprised had you not gotten misty-eyed watching these young people prepare to embark. You’ve helped and watched them grow and prepare for this moment — and now it’s here. “Bittersweet” was never more appropriate. 🙂

    1. You’re so right, John, “bittersweet” is the perfect description. Some of what got to me yesterday was really looking at the students. I’ve been there ten years and it’s amazing how much younger they now look as graduates from the way I viewed them when I first came to APU. Ha! I’m sure I’m not any older! And they are embarking on whole new lives, leaving behind all the friends and supports they’ve made, and some of them express their fears and yet remain so courageous. They teach me a lot every day. My neighbor’s son is graduating from APU, too…and I remember him as a toddler. There are some wonderful young people entering society as matriculated adults! They will make a lovely societal infusion! And be on the lookout for three guys from California this weekend…Two will probably have Dodger caps, and the third will still wear his Angel’s red…even to a Dodger-Cub game 🙂 My son-in-law is coming for the ballpark…not the Dodgers! You have a good weekend, too, John! Debra

  15. Deb (Debra, too!)

    Thank you for your post. My son is one of those voices lifting up their praises and honor to God. As I watched them yesterday, live via God Tube, I found myself caught up in the music. I continue to be amazed at what Harold does with those voices. I love to hear him speak, also. His insight must be straight from the Holy Spirit. I would have loved to be in that room to hear those voices surrounding me.

    1. You are so welcome, Debra! You must have been so proud indeed! I watched those young men and wondered about their families…I knew each one would have loved to have had parents in that room to share the amazing experience. I was so proud of them myself…as I’m proud of all the amazing APU students. They are such wonderful young men and women and we can be very proud of them in every day experiences. But this opportunity to sing at the prayer breakfast…wow! How wonderful! I hope and pray the entire East Coast tour will go well for them! I’m in the Center for Academic Service-Learning…come by and introduce yourself some time if you can! I’m so glad you found my post…you can let your son know how moved I was! Debra

  16. I enjoyed working with the students at Salisbury University for the 8 years I was there . . . hopeful hellos and good-byes!

    Beautiful post, Debra.

  17. Well done, Debra, and a fitting tribute to all young adults. Our garden club gives some rather substantial scholarships each year. The recipients are required to give a presentation to the club. Each and every time I am in awe of their knowledge, poise, scholarship, etc, and I feel hopeful for the future.

    1. I am frequently humbled by what I observe with our young men and women. I think they have so many qualities I didn’t possess at 22! I really enjoy being in a position to encourage them to keep going! Many are putting themselves through school, holding more than one job and juggling difficulties in their families. Some were receiving more financial support from parents who are now having trouble making it themselves. There seem to be more pressures on the students than I saw a few years ago. But I do see them rising to the occasion. I do admire many of them! 🙂 Thanks, Penny. Debra

  18. The incredible joy of working alongside our fellow men is almost unsurpassed by anything else in life. Thanks for this lovely post, Debra: it is great to hear about your relationships with those with whom you work, and like you I wish those young people every success as they take the next steps in life.

    1. Thank you, Kate. I do enjoy working with the young people. Sometimes I think they are going to be the best antidote against cynicism! They are hope-filled, and yet realistic. Definitely hard working!

      I mentioned you today in an “honor roll” of those blogs I want to share with my friends. It was in response to “award season”–but I have made it very clear my intention is to encourage my friends to read among my favorites–awards, as always, optional! 🙂 Debra

  19. There is something so special about seeing the next generations grow up and take on their adult responsibilities. They give me great hope for the future, despite all our current problems.

    1. I don’t often stop to consider the impact our university young people make on me, but after posting this week I’ve been thinking of them even more than usual. I’m so often impressed by how passionate they are about all that they do. They are much more disciplined at 22 than I was…maybe that’s in part why I’m so fascinated with them. They are very mature! 🙂 Debra

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