‘An awesome energy’

For those of us who don’t skip town for the summer, the first week after graduation ceremonies at IU Bloomington is typically greeted with a strong sense of relief (“Eureka! A parking spot!”) and fond recollections of the past year.

First, the relief. True to this time of year, this morning I easily found a nice, convenient place to park, and made a quick (emphasis on quick) stop at a coffee shop on Indiana Avenue, which was quiet, subdued and mostly bereft of students. Amazing how a lack of long lines and students cramming for final exams can make the coffee taste sweeter!

As I headed on to work (No Frogger-like attempts to avoid pedestrians and bicyclers today!), I glanced over at the iconic Sample Gates, the entryway to the historic academic corridor of campus, where, late last week, throngs of overjoyed graduating students and proud family members convened for the time-honored tradition of cap and gown picture-taking.

IU Bloomington awarded 8,829 degrees at its 183rd commencement, May 4 and 5.

And that’s when, for me, the recollection started. Every academic year at IU Bloomington brings with it a new set of challenges, whether you’re a student as I once was in Bloomington, faculty member, or staff member like I am now. Every year has its ups and downs, and this year was no different. And yet one thing never changes — the energizing quality that all of us can derive from our students’ smiles, joy and celebratory laughter as they prepare to take the next step on the path to achieving their hopes and aspirations. All of us can take pride in their accomplishments as we simultaneously anticipate the rewards they promise to reap with their IU education.

Leave it to soul music icon and IU Jacobs School of Music alumnus Booker T Jones to capture the infectious and inspiring vibe of our students. As he told the 2012 graduating class at commencement, “Your potential is enormous. Your resources are vast. Each one of you is unique, unlike any other that has ever walked this earth. Your energy is awesome and I know you will accomplish the unbelievable.” (Read Booker T’s full remarksListen here to the commencement remarks of Booker T, IU President Michael McRobbie and other dignitaries.)

Before we all know it, the coffee shops will once again be overflowing with amped-up students, the leaves will start to change around the Sample Gates and new students will start to acquire their first taste of Bloomington’s beautiful tree-lined campus. And though parking spaces will once again come at a premium, we summer stragglers can gear up for another new year, recharged by the activity and excitement around us.

In the coming months, I hope this blog manages to capture and convey a little bit of the excitement and ‘awesome’ energy that Booker T described at spring commencement, while also taking time for recollection of those moments that make IU such a special place for all who work and study here.

To that end, here’s a chance to experience the excitement of spring commencement via this special Storify site.