By Griffin Burrough
“What the hell is matriculation?” was my response to an email ordering us to attend the mandatory meeting about it. To me, matriculation sounded to me like some weird cult induction ritual.
I was far too busy to go find out what type of Kool-Aid they were going to give us so I got the SparkNotes from my roommate. He basically said, “We get to plant a tree or some stuff” (not his actual wording). My response to that was far tamer. I rolled my eyes and thought, “Of course our tiny school in the middle of nowhere wants us to plant a tree to represent our class.”
When matriculation occurred, I was proven right-ish. I was right because we were planting a tree; but my initial perspective of it was all off. First, we were treated to another lovely speech by President Sean Decatur while he was mounted on his throne. He led with his love for Bob Marley, which, while good, was not on par with his convocation opening of “We are Smoot.” The keynote of our matriculation was a long, yet interesting and funny, lesson on Kenyon’s history. I’m thoroughly impressed with Professor of History Jeff Bowman. Sure, I can be funny when I write 400 words, but he talked for half an hour and was still engaging and knowledgeable. One day I hope to have that kind of stamina.
After our ceremony, we all got to literally get our hands dirty and nurture our tree. It’s very cheesy to think of ourselves as a sapling now: unsure of ourselves, just poking our heads above ground for the first time — but we are just saplings, about to find out who we are. I may have scoffed like the cynic I am at a ceremony where we plant a tree, but I know that in four years; that sapling will be a slightly bigger sapling representing how I’ve come from being a naïve, unsure freshman to a naïve, unsure freshman with facial hair. Or I could be wiser; you never know.
As charming and lovely as planting the tree was, signing our names in the same books as the best and brightest of Kenyon’s history was terrifying. I looked through these books and thought, “Wow, the signatures are magnificent.” So I stepped up to sign my name beside the likes of Paul Newman, John Green and Matthew Winkler, and my pen ran out of ink and smudged. Now in the records of history, my signature is forever tarnished.
In the end, I looked it up, and “matriculation” means to enroll as a member of a body, especially of a college or university. It’s funny for me to think that I’ve been at Kenyon for more than two months now and I’ve only now enrolled. All snarkiness aside, it’s great that at Kenyon, we have a grand ceremony that finally inducts us into our school. I’m happy that I’m finally a member of a place that is far too good for me. Here’s to me and the rest of my class being matriculated. We did it, guys.
Griffin Burrough ’18 is undeclared from Summit, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com.