served as a Grand Marshal at Brookdale’s graduation ceremonies. It was pure joy.When my favorite poet Billy Collins came to Brookdale some years back, I interviewed him for Brookdale Television, and asked him how he became Poet Laureate. He said it’s a mystery: there’s no short list, you don’t know you’re being considered. You just get a phone call out of the blue from the Librarian of Congress. Then he added, with sly wit, “It’s a good reason to have a telephone.”I thought of that comment as I stood for a couple of hours behind and slightly to the side of President Maureen Murphy as she stood, indefatigably, and greeted hundreds of graduates, one by one, congratulating each, shaking his or her hand, and presenting the tiny vellum scroll tied with a red ribbon that informed them that their actual diplomas would be mailed to them over the summer.Being able to attend a Brookdale graduation – to be offered by your graduate one of the six prized tickets – seems to me today to be a good reason to have a child.Over my 28 years on the faculty, I have dutifully attended many graduations. I admit ruefully that at some point they became a bit ho-hum, always sort of the same, as you might expect. We professors sit in the first few rows, excited and happy for our students as they proceed up a ramp from stage left, keeping an eye out for those we may have had in class among the many we have not. When we spot one, we immediately recall our impressions of that particular student. Then the moment passes, and after the first few hundred, our eyes begin to glaze over a little and we briefly disappear into our own thoughts.But for me, (this) was entirely different – and wondrous. I stood behind a table laden with baskets full of scrolls. One by one, as in a slow-motion relay race, my job was to hand a scroll to my fellow Grand Marshal Gerry Monroy, who passed it off to President Murphy, who put it in the student’s hand. Though I could not see her face, I am certain she was grinning the whole time, because earlier, in the Warner Student Center, as those of us who would be on stage donned our robes and made small talk while we waited to line up, she said to me and Gerry, emphatically, “This is why we do what we do.” She may have said it twice. She was just beaming, brimming with anticipation.I wondered then why she seemed so over the top about it all: another graduation. But very soon I understood: those young adults (and a few not so young) striding confidently toward us, up that ramp, each one’s name having been announced to the multitudes who filled Collins Arena to the rafters, their families gathered in clumps like synonyms in a thesaurus, suddenly and briefly whooping and hollering like all getout for their own, wonderful, accomplished college graduate who was about to be greeted (sometimes hugged) and congratulated by the President of Brookdale Community College. It was joyous. That’s all I can tell you.By Tim Burke.Burke teaches English at Brookdale Community College.