Saturday, April 30, 2011

Megan Graduates, meets Admiral Mullen

The Graduate
Yeah. I'm done.
Number two daughter graduated from Florida State University today Magna Cum Laude with honors from the College of Visual Arts, Theatre, and Dance. Her major was art, and her minor was art history.

Yes, I'm a very proud papa. And she's got a very proud mom too. And a lot of proud family members and close friends.

Our shared graduation adventure started with our typical trip from Orlando up to Tallahassee. Except we didn't stay in Tallahassee this trip.

We've been staying north of Tallahassee in Thomasville, Ga, since Friday. We wound up in Thomasville because Megs, my little sweetheart, decided at the last minute to attend graduation ceremonies.

We didn't push her one way or the other. We figured she'd been working hard enough to graduate on time, and with all her other activities and responsibilities at school she just wanted to earn her degree and then head on. But for whatever reason, she decided that she would attend.

And so, with barely a month before graduation ceremonies, I tried to find something, anything, we could stay at for two nights in Tallahassee. During spring graduation.

If you've got kids at FSU, or if you're an FSU alumnus who tries to go back, say during a major home game (think Gators/Noles), they you know that unless you made a reservation at least a year in advance, there's no way you're going to find anyplace to stay, especially a place that's affordable. So we started looking at towns within 30 miles of Tallahassee, such as Thomasville. That's when we found the Days Inn.

When we checked in Friday night, we went into the central part of Thomasville to dine at Liam's. It was a part of her celebration for graduating. We decided to eat in Thomasville because it was a zoo down in Tallahassee. We spent an interesting evening at Liam's. Megan got to sample six types of cheeses, something she's been wanting to do since she heard of the place.

Liam's in Thomasville

Window Shopping in Thomasville

Thomasville is a city of roughly 20,000 people. It has an historic downtown which has been fixed up and gentrified with some very expensive and eclectic shops and restaurants. Liam's is on E. Jackson street (319) just before you hit the center of the historic part of Thomasville. If 319 sounds familiar, it should if you live in Tallahassee. Jackson heads on out of Thomasville where it turns into 319. It then takes you straight to Tallahassee, where it then becomes Thomasville Road. Keep following Thomasville Road and it ends on Monroe, just a few blocks down from where Monroe crosses Tennessee.

Saturday started at 6:30am for us. We came to Thomasville sans Labs, which was a good thing. There was no way I was going to leave them alone in a hotel room in Thomasville for six or more hours, and there was no way we could have taken them with us and leave them anywhere else. My oldest daughter house sat for us in Orlando and kept the Labs down there. Being Lab-free, it was straightforward for us to rise,dress, and drive south down 319 from Thomasville to meet up with Megan near FSU. We parked our car at a local Publix parking lot and Megs then drove us to her apartment, which was a block away from the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center, where Saturday's graduation ceremonies where held. Dressed in a shirt and tie and armed with both an E-1 and an E-3, mom, dad, and soon-to-be-graduated daughter walked the short distance to the civic center.

Filing in
Filing in
Admiral Mullen Commencement Address
Admiral Mullen giving the commencement address
Megan meets Admiral Mullen
Megan meets Admiral Mullen
Admiral Mullen filing out
The Admiral and his wife behind the university president
and his wife

The commencement speaker was Admiral Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I don't know who pulled that particular coup, but it was great, at least from my perspective. Admiral Mullen gave a very interesting and engaging commencement address that touched on a number of themes ranging from supporting out troops and veterans to how different parts of the world are facing the challenges of the future.

The entire ceremony lasted from 9am to noon, yet it was so well coordinated that it flew by. Both Judy and I felt it was the best commencement exercise we'd ever seen. Megan wanted to get away from the crowds, so we drove back up Thomasville Road to one of her favorite spots, the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, where dear old dad took many photos of Megan at various locations around the park that Megan is fond of. (As a side note to Governor [sic] Rick Scott, we were able to quite easily find Lake Hall, right next to Maclay Gardens where it's always been).

We're headed back to Orlando Sunday where Meg's will spend two weeks with us before heading back up to FSU, where she'll work during the summer. She'll be helping with the the SLC Movie Committee where she's been a chairperson for the past three years. She'll also be looking for job and master's program opportunities within Florida and without. This marks another key event in her young life. It will be interesting and exciting to see what comes next.

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