The University of Virginia graduates had to line up for the ceremony at 9:30 a.m. In the final minutes, they finished off their drinks and closed out their tabs.
On the porch of a fraternity house, three guys popped open champagne, then raced to finish first. The Vitamin C song "Graduation" blared:
"Can we survive it out there?
"Can we make it somehow?
"I guess I thought that this would never end.
"And suddenly it's like we're women and men.
"Will the past be a shadow that will follow us around?
"Will these memories fade when I leave this town?"
Around the university's most historic building, the Rotunda, thousands of graduates lined up in matching robes and caps. "I'm scared!" one guy dramatically said as he dragged himself toward the ceremony. Most walked confidently. A few pinballed. A couple slipped on the wet grass.
The ceremony began. Speakers shared inspirational thoughts. A business student sipped an oversize can of Bud Light. An engineering student sprinted out of the crowd, looking ill. Everyone sang the school song.
They moved their tassels. And then they marched into the real world.