I've been to and photographed a lot of graduation ceremonies over the years. High school, college, graduate school, etc. And nine times out of ten, you know what you're getting into — the standard fare of optimistic speeches, "grip and grin" diploma photos, and posing in the cap and gown for family — But earlier this month, my photography brought me to a special graduation unlike any I've attended.
I was contracted by the UW-Madison Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA) to help document the graduation recognition ceremony for a unique group of students, participants in pipeline and recruitment programs such as Posse, First Wave, CEO, PEOPLE, and more. Many of these students are the first in their family to attend or graduate from college. Some never even thought of gaining a college degree as an option. And, to put it simply, the energy, emotion, and positivity at the ceremony was truly something special to be a part of.
As the college had already hired photographers to capture the granting of diplomas and other necessary (but inspiring) imagery, I was free to move throughout Shannon Hall and find moments of happiness and emotion from graduates, parents, speakers, and more. Here are just some of those photos:
After experiencing this ceremony, I've got some much deeper thoughts about mindset and thought process going into assignments. But that's an important topic for another day, another post... Stay tuned.