Current Issue

July11, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 15

Features

Bittersweet farewell: A diary

By Angela Wu ’12
Published in the July11, 2012, issue


PHOTO: RICARDO BARROS

PAW asked Angela Wu ’12, one of our On the Campus writers for the last three years, to document the days that led to Commencement and alumna-hood.

At the P-rade, rushing to become alumni.
PHOTO: ANGELA WU ’12
At the P-rade, rushing to become alumni.

SATURDAY, JUNE 2

5 p.m.: For nearly three hours, we’ve been getting better at the locomotive cheer, watching a history of Princeton pass by in the P-rade. We raise beers to the Old Guard, cheer on Princeton’s first female undergraduates, and high-five the children of alumni. Now, overturning barricades, we sprint onto Poe Field.

“The only thing you can do wrong now is not wake up for graduation,” says my friend Alex Tait ’12.

There is, however, much to do. After the P-rade, I cross University Place to the 2 Dickinson St. Vegetarian Co-op — “2D” — a pink house where 50 students, including me, cook and eat together. At the 2D alumni reunion, I find friends playing the fiddle and Uilleann pipes and kids jumping on a trampoline. 2D is kind of a quirky place — one alumnus described it as “another country, separate from the mainland of Princeton”— and that’s why I love it. Later that night, I visit the 30th-reunion class, where a train of alumni is snaking around the tent. One of the dancers is my freshman-year residential adviser, Bryan Berry ’09, who spots me and yells, “I told you you’d make it!”

Author Angela Wu ’12 tries on graduation garb.
PHOTO: HABIN CHUNG ’12
Author Angela Wu ’12 tries on graduation garb.

SUNDAY, JUNE 3

12:30 p.m.: My phone buzzes with an email from Associate Dean Thomas Dunne, advising that we iron our gowns before Baccalaureate.

No time for that. I rip the gown out of its packaging and meet my friends on Cannon Green. There’s surprisingly little time for reflection this weekend. Most of our time is spent herding family members, packing up what we’ve collected over four years, and trying not to be late.

I make it to Baccalaureate in time. Financial journalist Michael Lewis ’82 makes an appropriate speaker — after all, my classmates and I entered Princeton at the onset of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Lewis’ tale of how he became “rich and famous” by having one lucky break after another is reassuring to a new crop of graduates uncertain about their future. But his real message is that luck — the good fortune that landed us at Princeton, for example — is arbitrary, and comes with a responsibility to the less fortunate.

“You are the lucky few,” he says.

After dinner with my parents and boyfriend, I find that friends have saved me a place on the steps for the Step Sing. Though we mumble through “The Orange and the Black,” we nail “Don’t Stop Believing,” the song by the group Journey that feels like Princeton’s anthem.

Senior Step Sing
PHOTO: ANGELA WU ’12
Senior Step Sing
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CURRENT ISSUE: July11, 2012
Commencement 2012
COMMENCEMENT VOICES
Quotations from speakers
ROTC COMMISSIONING
A ‘sense of obligation’
GRAD SCHOOL HOODING
Beer for intellectuals
HONORARY DEGREES
Pete Carril, Aretha Franklin, and more
SURVEY
From the 2012 Nassau Herald
COMMENCEMENT PUZZLE
‘In the middle’
Web Exclusives
VIDEO, PHOTOS
Highlights from Commencement 2012
Letters