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A New Graduate Steps Out

As benchmark occasions go, earning a doctoral degree may not be quite as spectacular as one’s wedding, or the birth of a child, but it sure comes close. To kick off our new A Day in the Life column, The Juilliard Journal asked Toni Marie Marchioni to document her thoughts and feelings on May 25, when D.M.A. candidate Marchioni officially became Dr. Marchioni. Here are the highlights of that momentous occasion. 

The shoes


6 a.m. For the first time in my academic career, I wake up before my alarm. I’m becoming a doctor today! Family in town. I’m so excited. Anticipating a great day, including the shoes. Time to get ready.

8:30 a.m.  Wake up again. Oops (I guess I thought I had class when I woke up the first time).

9:05 a.m.  Sensational homemade lobster omelet in honor of commencement. Can I graduate every day?

9:20 a.m.  Graduation caps are really not meant to be worn with short hair. This looks awful. 

9:30 a.m.  Aack! Class picture at 9:30. I’m not going to make it! Run! So many memories as I cross the Lincoln Center Plaza. Almost seems like slow motion.

9:55 a.m.  Still waiting for picture in Room 309. So many thoughts of great rehearsals, music-making, and friends I already miss. 

10:25 a.m.  Lined up with the other D.M.A. candidates. Laughing about seminars we thought were so hard and joking that we have to answer one last bibliography question before they will give us our diplomas. All the pictures won’t completely capture the feeling of this moment.

10:45 a.m.  At least 30 people have told me they love my shoes. Guess they’re a hit.

11:00 a.m.  Time to process into Tully. Hello, Alice! Remembering your “Good night” concert and years of construction. Missed you then, but the updo is fabulous. 

11:04 a.m.  Here we go! Organ, trumpets, timpani. Only here do you get this kind of processional music—wonderful brass, percussion, and a Grammy-winning organist. (Don’t trip. Don’t trip.) Yes, thank you, aren’t my shoes fabulous!? 

11:15 a.m.  It’s [honorary degree recipient] James Earl Jones! I want to hear that voice. Maybe if we keep clapping, he will speak! Guess Darth and I will soon have doctorates.

11:45 a.m.  Commencement speeches. Some curious. But the dramatic interlude knocked my socks off, if not my shoes, though they are starting to hurt a little.

11:55 a.m.  Uh-oh, we lost one. **** is asleep. (Of course, I’ll never tell.)

12:15 p.m. President Polisi addresses us. High-minded, in his usual fashion, he ties ideals to the practical world as a course of action, not reaction.

12:25 p.m. My turn! (Don’t trip!) I’m hooded! Again, slow-motion memories as I stride across the stage scanning the faces of so many professors and mentors from all of these years. Jane Gottlieb just told me she loved my shoes. No pain, no gain!

1  p.m.  We’re out. Perfect day for a reception on the plaza. So many pictures, goodbyes, and embraces.

2:30 p.m.  Diploma in hand! I’m officially Dr. Marchioni. (Really, no library fines?)

3 p.m.  Walk to Koreatown. Different shoes. So hungry.

4:30 p.m.  Arrive at Miss Korea. Total indulgence. First time my parents have eaten Korean barbecue. They actually like it. That’s good because after all these years of their support, imagine if they didn’t? Sapporo, kimchi, glass noodles, chicken, veggies, porkbelly, and, my favorite, bulgogi.

6 p.m.  So full. I smell like barbecue. Time for the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. The owner is my former orchestra manager. Considering career move.

6:30 p.m.  Of course I can eat an entire Monday Sundae by myself.

6:50 p.m.  What was I thinking?

7:15 p.m. Walking off the sundae with a Friday evening stroll in Tompkins Square Park. New York: what a wonderful place to have studied and lived while at Juilliard.

9:30 p.m.  Back home. Beer.

10  p.m.  Lounging with family. Thinking about the past six years here. The Juilliard journey is not over; it’s just the end of the beginning. And I still have the shoes.

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