My older sister Tamar’s college career should have ended with her name being called from the podium at CMC graduation. Unfortunately, she will never make it to that point. She died on January 7, 2013, halfway through her junior year at CMC.
There are so many things in life that we can’t control. If we could, my sister would still be alive and about to graduate along with the rest of the class of 2014. While we can’t control what happened to her, we can control how we honor her memory.
Until recently, I assumed that the school would give her an honorary diploma at graduation. However, when I finally spoke to President Chodosh about the matter yesterday, he informed me that CMC would not give my sister an honorary diploma because she had not completed the necessary credits to graduate at the time of her death. Without delving too deeply into some of my other questions (What’s the point of an honorary degree if you have to have completed all the credits to graduate to receive it? Isn’t that just a regular degree?), I would like to ask why. Giving my sister an honorary diploma certainly wouldn’t lessen the value of a CMC degree. To CMC’s credit, President Chodosh informed me that giving honorary degrees to students who die relatively early in their college careers is not a common practice at any college. However, I still don’t see why that means we can’t do it.
Though we don’t understand the reasoning behind it at all, my family has accepted that Tamar will not receive an honorary diploma at graduation. Instead, my parents asked the administration that Tamar’s name be read at her rightful spot in the graduation order and that she receive some recognition for the two full years she spent here or the number of credits she did complete, rather than a standard diploma. The administration responded saying that they would consider it, but it seemed unlikely. Now there are three and a half days left until graduation, and they still haven’t decided.
My family is extremely grateful for all that CMC is doing to recognize my sister at graduation. President Chodosh is planning to talk about her in his speech, and she will also be mentioned in the invocation. Both of these are extremely thoughtful and kind, but they aren’t enough.
We all know that the CMC administration truly cares about each and every student here, but it’s hard to feel that way when they still haven’t decided if they’re even going to read my sister’s name in its rightful spot in the graduation order. My parents still don’t know if it will be worth it for them to buy plane tickets from Minnesota.
Tamar was an extremely active member of the class of 2014. She wholeheartedly loved CMC, and there’s no doubt that she would have graduated with high honors. She deserves to be recognized alongside the friends and classmates with whom she lived and learned. She died a year and a half ago, so the administration has had plenty of time to decide what to do at graduation. But, for whatever reason, they’ve left it to the last couple of days. It’s not right that Tamar will never have the career and family and life that she should have had. And while there’s nothing we can do to change that, we can ensure that she be given the college graduation she deserved.