Front Row Seat

Author: Elise Betz

I had the best seat on Franklin Field for Commencement.  Why?  Because I acted as the “Stage Marshal.”

Here is why I have that honor year after year. In 2004, when Dr. Gutmann was inaugurated, I was asked to be a marshal at the formal inauguration ceremony in Irvine Auditorium.  It was a wonderful event and my job was to seat all of the visiting representatives from colleges and universities.  I did my job very well and caught the eye of the Commencement planners.  They were impressed with my seating skills, so since 2004, I have been assisting the “stage party” at Commencement.  The “stage party” includes Dr. Gutmann, the Trustees, Deans, VPs, honorary degree recipients and the Commencement Speaker. Eminent people walk by me every year – Bono, Jodi Foster, Jon Huntsman, Denzel Washington.  The perks include saving front row seats for my faculty friends…

…And also getting to see exactly where Denzel Washington will be sitting.

I  also had the opportunity to watch the Class Board carry the flags in and to take a great photo of them in front of the stage:

Here is the view of the stage from my seat:

The best part of my marshal job each year is having the perfect seat to listen to the Commencement speaker.  This year, Denzel Washington delivered a moving and poignant speech – my favorite line: “Remember this: You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” A great reminder that we can’t take our possessions with us when we go…That what matters most are our day to day interactions with people.

The only thing I am taking with me are the memories. . . . many of which were made right here on this amazing University of Pennsylvania campus!


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Filed under Alumni Weekend, Commencement, Elise B., Memories of Penn

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