29 June 2012

The Great Diploma Hunt

It was a balmy summer in the Year of Our Lord 2012, when our hero first set out upon his quest to earn the rank of Master of International Development from the mysterious academy deep in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania known only as the University of Pittsburgh. It must be made plain that our hero would do nothing by halves, but rather foolishly insisted upon being set upon three impossible tasks by the wise masters of his programme at the University. Well, not technically ‘impossible’; after all, he did accomplish them, but very difficult and not in the least because they all had to be completed within the same term: the Thesis, the Capstone and the Independent Research Paper. These he stalked in the long, dusty, collapsible corridors of the second floor of the arcane and freshman-infested Hillman Library, through stacks of venerable and ancient tomes inscribed in the language of Cathay, chased through far-off lands such as Homewood neighbourhood in Pittsburgh’s East Side, and aided a band of noble heroes and heroines in seeking ways to improve the plight of southwestern Pennsylvania’s electronic waste. At long last, after the epic struggle with the guardians of the Electronic Theses and Dissertations website to upload and publish his work, his journey came to an end. He returned home to his native country in Rhode Island, to await the arrival of his certification.

Weeks passed, and still our hero had received no word from the University. Weeks dragged into months; eventually, he returned to Pittsburgh to attempt to track down his diploma, on an Odinic ride fuelled by carbonated maize-based beverages and set to a soundtrack consisting primarily of Tad Morose. The kindly staff of the University had already sent out his diploma, and asked if he had checked with the post in Rhode Island. Sadly, he had. The ride continued to the post office in Oakland, where they too informed him that they had seen neither hide nor hair of the package he sought. Dejected, he finally arrived at the doorstep of his former home. He found the door slightly ajar, and after looking carefully around he found no packages - until the letters ‘PLOMA - DO NOT BEND’ caught his eye from behind the radiator grill on the landing. Indeed, they had sent the diploma to the wrong address, and it had sat half-obscured behind the radiator God only knows how many days before our hero chanced to unearth it. In the end, however, our hero emerged triumphant.


  1. Congratulations! Funny story, when I graduated college my name was badly misspelled on my diploma. I wanted to keep it as a gag but my family insisted I return it and get a corrected copy, which I did. I don’t know how the mistake was made, because I spelled my name correctly on the form that was given to whatever entity printed the diplomas. Still, it was funny.

  2. Many thanks, John!

    Hehe, and that is an amusing story - I don't know if the university you went to is of the same structure as GSPIA / Pitt, but academic bureaucracies (needful though they are) can do some funny things. It's interesting the sorts of information that comes out distorted on the other side!