We Went to Our Daughter’s Senior Oral

We Went to Our Daughter’s Senior Oral


Yesterday we were out of pocket for 22 hours going to Maryland and back to attend our daughter’s Senior Oral at St. John’s College in Annapolis.  We had a great day and she did an excellent job.

Getting started at 4:30 am we saw dawn’s glow on the GW Bridge, as you can see in a photo below. After making record time with no traffic we arrived early and got a great parking space.

As discussed in my January post about our daughter completing her Senior Thesis, she wrote about Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.  During this oral, she would defend this thesis to three faculty members in front of an audience for an hour. This is done very formally with both student and faculty in full cap and gown.  At the beginning, when my daughter was announced and recommended for a degree, there was something about hearing her full name backed by knowledge of all the family (especially deceased) that she has made so proud, that I got choked up. I had sworn not to take photographs during the event, which was a pity because I had a perfect vantage point for a silent, surreptitious, and unobtrusive shot during the proceedings…but alas.

I expected it to be a bit of an interrogation but it was more like an erudite conversation on somewhat intimidating content.  Our daughter thoroughly enjoyed herself and said the time flew.  They discussed what is self-interest rightly understood, examined the roles of equality and freedom, and mostly probed the moral virtues required for democracy. Virginia was poised and thoughtful, both questioning and answering them; she had mastered this content and would have been happy for the conversation to go on for hours.  This oral was both a privilege and a rite of passage.

She had a good audience of peers and faculty, and I was surprised to see some folks come out from her local church there, including both her Sunday school teacher and her landlord (see photo.)  After rejoicing with friends, we celebrated by going out for sushi. Then, while she went back to class, James and I wandered around window shopping for a while until we met our daughter to hear another oral of a friend of hers, before taking her out to a wonderful dinner comprising of an avocado/crab appetizer before a seared ginger scallop salad (yum!).

After dropping her off at her evening seminar, we filled her fridge with food and marveled at the beauty of the tulips and blooming cherry tree in her yard as well as the profusion of lovely pansies across the street. We don’t even have leaves on the trees yet at home!

Then we headed northward through a soupy fog, filled with gratitude. When we climbed in bed at 2:30am after a wonderful but exhausting day, we were so glad we had gone!

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