May 20, 2008


You'd think when one pays a bazillion dollars to send one's child to an institution of higher learning, that institution would actually, you know, set a good example.

Alas, it ain't so.

I come from a family of folks who enjoy reading and writing and grammar and punctuation and even word games. So it should come as no surprise that several members of my family travel with red pens in their briefcases or purses on the off chance we they will find an error that is in desperate need of correction.

Imagine our surprise when several of us found a glaring error in the commencement program for the graduating seniors of the University of Texas at Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering.

It's on the page below. Can you find it? (Don't sweat it. You probably can't. You'd need more information than is given to be able to find it. Relax. I'll get there.)

When my eyes first discovered this atrocity, I gasped audibly. Thankfully it was during a loud round of applause for an accolade some degree candidate received, and no one heard me. Because I was dressed up for the occasion and was only carrying my evening bag, there was no room in said bag for the red pen.

My eyes began to twitch, and my palms got really sweaty. The room was spinning, and I needed a stiff drink red pen. Sensing my desperation, my mom whispered, "Sugar, are you okay?"

My heart skipped a beat. Mom! MOM might have a red pen in her purse!

"Do you.... um.... have.... a.... well, um..... a red... PEN?"

Her face fell in disgrace as she acknowledged she had left her red pen at home. "I couldn't imagine I'd need it," she said softly.

I have never, ever been so disappointed in another human being in all my life. And this, my own mother.

"What did you find, honey?" Mom asked.

"Can't you SEE it?????? Look! There it IS!" I pointed frantically.

And then she saw it. Horrified, she covered her mouth with her hand to conceal her utter astonishment. She began to squirm in her chair. She said she felt faint. My sister, the mother of the graduate we were there to cheer on, noticed the commotion. She leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder from the row behind me.

I turned around and saw the anguish on her face. She had seen it. The deed was done. This program, this paper memento of a monumental accomplishment, this heirloom for her eldest daughter to keep forever, was flawed.

You see, there were FOUR individuals being recognized as distinguished young former graduates. The program said "Recognition of Distinguished Young Alumnus." Alumnus! How could the
fifth largest university in the nation make such a horrid error?

Alumnus - a person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university.

Alumni - plural of alumnus

We stopped on the way out of the auditorium and bought a red pen. The corrected copy of the program with the glaring error circled in red has now been mailed to the dean's office.

Rachel is giving back her diploma.


Anonymous said...

It'll be ok... they'll say it was a joke to see if anyone caught it and they're engineers - not journalists and - well, spell check didn't catch it! Deep breath, Innnnn, now out spelling M.I.S.S.I.P.P.I.
love you!

Anonymous said...

omg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I should be an engineer since I can't spell Mississippi!!! Hope this cracked you up as much as me.

Sheryl said...

I am laughing out loud. That is so me to LOOK for the mistakes. Never thought to carry a red pen though. I am almost scared to post my comment for fear that something will be incorrect!!

DidiLyn said...

You are so funny. I love reading your writing. Write and let me know how ministry is going...specifics for prayers etc. I'd love to hear how it is going for you guys.