[Monday – June 17, 2013] The day started out early for everyone but Jared and me. They were up at the crack of dawn, packing the last few things into the truck and making the journey up 95 into DC with all the morning commuter traffic. It was graduation day.

My little brother, Eric, his girlfriend, Kori, and our Dad arrived early, pulling up in front of the DAR Constitution Hall by 7 am, and so the day began. With the truck finally parked a few blocks away and my brother’s display set up, Jared and I finally made our venture up north.

After a 15 minute walk to the venue, we arrived to find my Dad and Kori sitting outside beneath the trees, as the school had requested that all family and friends wait outside as the employers viewed the students displays. Inside the building stood my little brother, all his school work up on display and prospective employers checking him out…if only that is how all college graduations went.

We finally got the okay to head back inside and view the portfolio show.

My little brother and me

Eric graduated from the Art Institute of Washington (AIW) with a Bachelors in Fine Arts for Graphic Design. The halls of DAR were packed with student projects and displays with just about ever graduating class represented. The four of us, Kori, my Dad, Jared and I, stopped in at Eric’s both then took a stroll to see what his fellow students had done. We enjoyed servings of Southern cooking, checked out fashion designs, video game designs and some amazing photography.

The AIW graduating class of 2013 portfolio show ended sometime after noon when all the students were promptly instructed to begin tearing down their displays and family and friends were asked to leave until 3 pm unless they were helping.

Jared and I didn’t do much to help take everything down, I stood there filming with an extra hand to hold things that were ready to fall and Jared held the wooden display still as they worked to take all the art off, screws out and fold it up. My little brother trashed his wooden display while Kori, Jared and I stood watching all the other students slowly break their things down.

With the portfolio show over, it was time to walk all of my brother’s art work and table back to my Dad’s truck, parked a few blocks away… on the bottom level of a parking garage, which had no elevator and a set of stairs that you could only take up.

After a stop in CVS for some refreshments, we made our journey back to DAR, Eric headed inside to put on his cap and gown while we sat our in the sticky heat watching a street vendor re-park her trucks over and over again.

Around 2:45 pm, whispers of the doors being open began. We moseyed our way up to the entrance to see if we could slip in from the heat and escape the water vendor who seemed to know more about the graduation then anyone else. We were redirected to the side doors, so we walked and there we found parents, grandparents, siblings and friends all crowding the locked doors impatiently waiting to get in. We stood and we waited. As three o’clock neared, the crowd grew, more people pushed their way up and complaints about the doors not opening up began to flurry through the crowed.


When the doors finally opened, the ushers were limited and their programs seemed to be scarce. For having us outside for hours while they “prepared,” the host sure seemed to be confused about what was happening.

The DAR hall was beautiful when we finally got inside. We headed up the stairs, opposite of the crowed, and found ourselves some nice box seats with a great view of the stage. Then, at 3:30, the graduation march began to play as the graduates entered the building.

My little brother was easy to spot, he was one of the first ones in, walking along a chef three or four times his size. After three (fairly) short speeches, the first set of graduates were asked on stage, up first was the Bachelors of Fine Arts – Graphic Design  and there walked my little brother, a college graduate, across the stage. Kori and I were so excited we let out a burst of cheer at the same time after the mono-tone speaker announced Eric’s name.

Eric Michael Gulla...” Well, at least he got the first and middle name right. My little brother could careless though, we knew who he was and he had gotten his degree.

The ceremony was short, the school had between 50 and 100 graduates cross the stage that day. As the graduates made their way out into the hall, their families and friends were excited to congratulate them on their great accomplishment.

After a few photos and being asked to clear the venue, we made the journey back to the cars and made our slow venture back down 95 to celebrate with dinner… which to say the least was sub-par.

I am so proud of my little brother and his great accomplishment. I can still remember the days when getting good grades was a struggle and he got ten bucks for ever C on his report card while I was grounded for the C’s on mine. I know that he his going to go on to do great things, weather it is continuing his current position working at REI and pursing his artistic passion in his free time, weather he becomes the graphic designer at some company or dives into greater debt because he realizes he misses all those college test and heads back to school for his masters. No matter what path he chooses, one thing is certain, I will always be proud of him and there to support him in all he does.


Check out my little brother’s online portfolio by clicking HERE and like his graphic design page by clicking HERE


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