Saying goodbye to their Alma Mater
URBANA — Einstein the chihuahua was shivering Friday afternoon, even though he was well-dressed for graduation photos — down to a nattily knotted tie — as he waited to pose with Alma Mater and a human friend.
Human Nicole Pach has just earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Illinois, and she was in line in an ocean of blue gowns, mostly female graduates, to get her Kodachrome moment with the refurbished Alma Mater statue.
Last year's graduating class had no Alma Mater on hand, and this year's crew was glad to see her back.
"Good to see you," said Kim Nelson, who just earned a master's degree in accounting.
They were also glad to be doing this Friday, before graduation ceremonies Saturday and what one graduate described as "the madness" expected for that day.
Lauren Arkin, getting her degree in German with a minor in education, saw Einstein ahead of her in line.
"I can empathize," she said, almost exactly when the sun finally came out. The brief solar event was followed seconds later by a sprinkling of rain.
Her sister missed out on an Alma Mater graduation last year and planned to borrow Lauren's cap and gown for her own photo.
Lauren Arkin associates the Lorado Taft statue with weather. One winter, she and friends posed with Alma "during a blizzard. It was great."
Arturo Romo, getting his degree in urban planning, remembers posing earlier in his academic career on Alma Mater's strong shoulders.
Haimeng (Cate) Cen, who works at the UI's career center, just earned her bachelor of science in marketing and finance, and was wearing orange nail polish to mark the event.
Her possible last words for Alma were: "Hold me, don't let me go. I'm not ready yet!" she joked.