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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Bush daughters graduating

First family skipping ceremonies

May 23, 2004

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— President Bush wasn't the only one who skipped the pomp and circumstance of his daughter's graduation from the University of Texas on Saturday. Jenna Bush did not participate either.

Despite her name being listed on the commencement program, Bush was not among the more than 150 English majors receiving degrees Saturday afternoon at the Austin campus. Attendance at the event is not required to graduate from the university.

Aides have said President Bush and first lady Laura Bush decided to skip their 22-year-old twin daughters' graduations because their presence and that of White House security would be disruptive.

Jenna's sister, Barbara, will pick up a degree in humanities Monday from Yale, her father's alma mater. The family will celebrate with private dinners.

Jenna Bush simply "decided she didn't want to go to the ceremony. No other reason," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Laura Bush.

He added that it was fairly common for students at large universities to skip commencement. For Saturday night's universitywide ceremony, which includes general recognition of the school's entire graduating class of 8,061, only about 3,000 students sought tickets.

At Saturday's convocation for English majors, graduate Jaclyn Trantham said Jenna Bush "probably didn't want the attention and the Secret Service and everything."

Giving a commencement speech at Louisiana State University on Friday, the president said it felt "really good" to be writing the last tuition check. But he added: "It also feels like the last 20 years or so went by awfully fast."

After graduation, the sisters plan to travel with friends, then help with their father's re-election campaign, said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman.

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