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Friday, June 1, 2012

My Brother, College Graduate

Considering that today is my brother Rob's 23rd birthday (other known aliases: Ryan, Robbie), I thought it would be appropriate to write about the experience of attending his college graduation during our 3 week trip back to the US.

It is pretty surreal to watch someone that you remember being born graduate from college.  There are 8 years between me and my youngest brother, and though I don't have a whole lot of memories of our family before he was brought into this world, I do have a few.  To think that I've been alive long enough to have these memories AND watch him graduate from college is simultaneously incredible and humbling, but enough about me...

Robbie has always been an independent, headstrong guy, and has been a source of entertainment, friendship and, at times, incredible frustration.  I like to think that this is because we are extremely like-minded, but it is probably more accurately because he loves to prove me wrong, push my buttons and being that he knows how I think, he is quite gifted in both of these areas.  He took Virginia Tech by storm by completing one of the most difficult course curriculums out there (chemical engineering) and enjoying a strong social life with plenty of personally enriching activities on the side.  We had the good fortune of spending time with him at the German Club Reunion we attended in late April, and Gretchen and I joined the rest of our family while we returned to Virginia Tech for graduation weekend.

The weekend festivities began on Friday, where commencement was hosted at Lane Stadium.  This place was as full of life and heart during this ceremony as it was for a football game - and though we were not thrilled about the First Lady's decision to speak at commencement, it was a beautiful day and a powerful ceremony.
Over 5,000 new graduates on the field
After commencement, my family endured my photo-taking requirements. I got some great outdoor shots of a proud bunch outside of the German Club Manor.

Gretchen was especially proud of her Uncle Robbie
Uncle Chris made a great babysitter
This one was too precious to omit 
 The following day, the actual graduation ceremony was split into colleges, with the engineering college having over a fifth of the total number of graduates.  We played Find-Your-Graduate for the first few minutes of finding our seats.  Can you find Robbie?

How about now??

And here is one of the prouder moments I can think of.  My youngest brother, walking across the stage with a smile on his face.  Way to go baby bro!

To add a cherry to the weekend, I reconnected with a long lost childhood friend (literally, we haven't seen each other in nearly 20 years), who is the General Manager of an outstanding restaurant in Pearisburg, VA.  This is a super-small town, approx 30 minutes northwest from Virginia Tech, but the food and atmosphere are worth every minute of the drive.  It was fantastic to see Rachel again, just as friendly and pleasant as I remember, and the restaurant was a wonderful change from our regular stops in Blacksburg.  If you are anywhere in the area, I highly recommend The Bank Food and Drink in Pearisburg.  Get the beet salad - trust me.  

It was a great weekend, and a mile-marker for my family that, I think, we were all secretly dreading for all these years.  Our youngest member is now an official adult - and we couldn't be more proud.  Congratulations Rob, Happy Birthday Robbie, and may the world of adulthood offer you everything you desire.
Your Favorite Sister

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