It was the perfect ceremony for me: A few of my friends were graduating at the same time, so we could all join in stressing over doffing and how to wear our gowns; some former students of mine also received their Bachelors' degrees yesterday; and it was a joint ceremony for Arts and Education, so I had plenty of familiar faces in the dais party.
I was excruciatingly nervous beforehand, and dreamt up scenarios where I somehow ended up falling over and injuring the Vice Chancellor mid-doff. Fortunately that did not happen.
I am very fond of the pomp and ridiculousness of graduations: the procession and protocol, the applause. The best part is seeing the different regalia. I love the assortment of satin and velvet and jumble of colours as every academic wears their intellectual 'home' on their backs. The UWA doctoral gown is rather fetching, what with the black and red. Granted, it has not been designed to be worn by petite ladies, but you do get to flounce around in billowy blackness (it rather makes you want to shout "Mr Potter!" every now and then). The mortar board, on the other hand, loses hands-down to the wondrous pouffe that is Curtin University's "black Tudor bonnet" or the "six-cornered velvet tam [...] worn as a beret at a slightly jaunty angle" of The University of Texas at Austin. Oh, my kingdom for a jaunty-angled beret!
Despite the shortcomings of the headgear I am contriving ways to get more wear out of the ensemble. It may be less feasible to declare Academic Fridays - even at university I don't think I'd get much support - but the outfit might work as a sort of half-baked coat for those days when you don't want to wear sleeves but need to have a really warm back. The mortar board could surely double as a fruit bowl or sorts. I can promise* you now that if I ever work in a position with lots of student contact I will keep the mortar board on my desk at all times and use it to serve Minties.**
*promise may be withdrawn without prior warning
**contents of hat may vary seasonally