Students, staff prepare for graduation

By Rachel Bjornestad
On April 28, 2014

Commencement can be exciting for students, as is the thought of life after graduation.

Danielle Goodwin, a nursing major who recently won a Distinguished Service Award, is one of over 2,000 students set to walk in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

“I am so excited to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse and carry my A-State pride through my next chapter in life,” she said. “I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful and enjoyable college experience.”

With so many students and their families coming together to celebrate, Arkansas State University has many protocols in place to prepare for the big day. Graduating students are highly encouraged by the Registrar’s office to review their graduation checker at least once a day after they submit their intent to graduate to ensure that they are making adequate progress towards their final semester. The Registrar’s office also verifies that each student has all the necessary credits and has fulfilled all requirements to graduate.

Graduation coordinator Steve Nichols says it is difficult to predict how many students will actually show up for graduation.

“There’s some that will say they’re attending and won’t, while others will say they aren’t attending and they’ll show up,” he said.

However, the Registrar’s office can usually get a good idea of how many will attend utilizing information from the self-service banner. Through the banner, students can answer whether or not they plan to attend the graduation ceremony after they submit their intent to graduate form.

In the same way that the Registrar’s office prepares for the big day, many students are also intent on the graduation process.

“It’s a scary, overwhelming and exciting thought all at once,” Goodwin said.

As far as what she’s done to prepare, Goodwin said she has only had time to do what steps ASU has given her from her graduation tracker.

“I haven’t even found something to wear yet,” she said.

Goodwin said she does not have a lot planned for graduation, but looks forward to having everyone together to celebrate.

“My family is scattered all over the place, so as long as they are here that’s all that matters,” she said.

About two weeks before graduation, Nichols starts to print the diplomas. He also is in charge of removing the diplomas for students who have failed classes needed to graduate and mailing diplomas to graduating students who are unable to attend the graduation ceremony. Students can fill out a non-attending form on the ASU website to get their diploma mailed to them.

Toward the end of the semester, the university also hosts a graduation fair in which seniors can be fitted for their cap and gown.

When it comes to preparing for the actual event, Nichols says that due to the number of students, there is no prior rehearsal for the ceremony. Faculty and staff who are participating in the ceremony will meet the Friday prior to graduation to go over instructions. On the day of the commencement, students are given their cards for the announcer to read, and then follow faculty members’ instructions to lead them to their seats.

The university will also offer live streaming of the ceremonies. The links to the broadcast are on the ASU website and students can later order a DVD recording of the event.

The commencement ceremonies are free and open to the public and there is no limit to how many guests a student can bring.

“I tell students to bring anyone and everyone,” Nichols said. “We have plenty of seating.”

Commencement is split into two ceremonies on Saturday, May 17. The morning ceremony will be at 10 a.m. for students graduating in the College of Agriculture, College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Science and Mathematics.

The 2:30 p.m. ceremony is for students graduating with degrees in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Media and Communication and the University College.

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