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A Slight Discrepancy

When I left Bryn Mawr without graduating in 1994, I intended to complete my degree some day. The longer I waited, though, the more daunting the task seemed, so I was surprised to discover how very little work I actually had to do to get my diploma, and I was shocked by how much easier college seemed the second time around. One lab science and a few semesters of Spanish after returning to school, and I was done.

Finally completing my degree was so easy, in fact, that I couldn’t quite believe that I had actually done it, and I went back to Bryn Mawr for commencement half expecting to be told that there was a mistake, that I wouldn’t be graduating after all. I went to pick up my regalia with the fear that my name wouldn’t be on the rolls for the class of 2007. The fact that I was able to pick up a gown, a cap, and a hood with no trouble simply meant that I showed up for rehearsal imagining that someone would soon be telling me, “There seems to be a problem. You need to go talk to your dean.” When that didn’t happen, I relaxed—a little.

The afternoon of commencement, I got to Merion Green a little early, procured a program, and looked myself up. There I was: Jessica Lee Jernigan of Ohio. When the time came, I got in line for the procession. There was no red flag next to my name on the marshal’s list, and I marched with the rest of the class of 2007 when the bagpipers started piping. It was really happening: I was really graduating.

I waited for my name and I walked across the stage. I shook the College president’s hand and I took my diploma. When I got back to my seat, I untied the yellow ribbon and unfurled the parchment, eager to see my name—finally—on a Bryn Mawr diploma. What I saw instead was, I feel, the cosmic joke variant of the disaster I had been expecting:


May 24, 2007 | Permalink


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