• Julia Fontana

Graduation at Palmer Station

Updated: Apr 11

Graduating at Palmer Station is quite a humbling and special experience. Before coming down to Palmer, I was slightly disappointed I was going to miss walking at graduation with my class, but I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I figured at the very least Kim, Kirsten and I would have a small celebration the night of my graduation toasting to my undergraduate years. After arriving on station I quickly realized that this was not going to be the case.


It started with Kirsten and me making my grad cap. The thought crossed my mind that I should bring a cap with me but with all the stress of packing and moving out of my house it had slipped my mind. So we were down to option 2: DIY Grad Cap. Using cardboard, an old cut up costume, string, a pair of old leggings, a rivet from the carpenter, and lots of hot glue and staples, Kirsten and I had constructed what looked like a decent grad cap!


The next step was taking some graduation pictures. Luckily for us the clouds had parted one morning and left us some beautiful pink and orange skies. So Kirsten and I set out, walking around station trying to find the best lighting and minimum wind. If you know me you know that I am not the biggest fan of having my picture taken, but it was worth the break from processing data. After freezing our hands off, and almost losing the cap in the Southern Ocean (I caught it, don’t worry) we settled back in our office for some warm tea and more data processing.


The picture series above shows me throwing my cap much too high, realizing, panicking, and nervously checking to see if the Station Manager noticed. (Picture Credit: Kirsten Steinke)


Like I said before, I wasn’t expecting a lot for my graduation but I knew that was wrong when the first thing I heard that morning was Chef Lisa yelling “Julia! Julia! Look!!” “I’m wearing your colors!!” she took off her shoe and showed me her orange and black socks and orange t-shirt under her black apron. The day continued with many more small surprises like a sandblasted beaver cup from Research Assistant, Lance, a glacial ice sculpture of a beaver from fellow OSU alum and Carpenter Rick, a great dinner and graduation cake made by Lisa, and a “ceremony” and “degree” from the University of Penguins from Kim and Kirsten. By the end of the night everyone had signed and decorated my grad cap and the festivities had come to an end. I would like to thank everyone on station for making this day so great and special, and although I missed the formal Oregon State ceremony, I cannot think of a better way to graduate.


I am proud to say I have graduated from Oregon State University with a BS in Earth Science with an option in Ocean Science and a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems! A big shout out to everyone at Oregon State, Kim, and my parents for helping me get here. I cannot imagine a better school to have spent my undergraduate career. Congratulations Class of 2019 and as always GO BEAVS!


Photo Credit: Kirsten Steinke