What one wears to commencement is somewhat of a statement — whether shirt sleeves and ties, dresses and heels or shorts and flip-flops, it says something about the wearer. But whatever is worn underneath, it’s the cap and gown that really matter. That is the sartorial statement that says, “I am a graduate.”
“I’ll be able to look back and say 'I went to Tulane, just like my grandfather, and when I graduated, I wore his robe,'” says Katie Gray, who will receive a bachelor of arts degree from Tulane University on May 18. (Photo by Ryan Rivet )
For most people that statement alone is enough to instill a sense of pride, but for Katie Gray of Ferriday, La., that sense of pride will be bolstered by a sense of family legacy. Katie will be wearing the very same robe her grandfather, Lestar Martin, wore when he graduated from the Tulane School of Architecture in 1959.
Katie and her grandfather started the conversation about her wearing his robe more than a year ago, and she assumed that he had forgotten all about it. When she went back home for winter break a surprise was waiting for her.
“When I went by his house for Christmas, he and my grandmother had it pressed and ready for me,” Gray says. “I think this is something that made him feel good, and I thought it was great.”
Gray says that the decision to look at Tulane when she was applying to colleges was influenced by the fact her grandfather is an alumnus.
“His history here made me look at the school, and once I got here I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Gray says.
Coming from a family that Gray calls very close, she is excited to have another connection with her grandfather, one she calls “very meaningful.”
“For me to be able to share this with him is special,” Gray says. “Just knowing that I’ll be able to look back and say, ‘I went to Tulane, just like my grandfather, and when I graduated, I wore his robe.’ I’ll be able to tell this story to other generations. That’s why it means a lot to me.”