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An exciting moment for a college student is the moment they walk across the stage to receive their degree and become a college graduate.
What the soon-to-be-college graduate might not know is that a lot of thought goes into how ENMU sets up their ceremony. Assistant Registrar Sara Ricklefs said, “We have to leave empty chairs throughout the student section, because students can show up the day of and say, ‘I want to participate’ and we have to find them a chair.” Typically, there are two empty seats behind every degree, so if someone showed up, they are able to sit with their degree. Students are allowed to apply for graduation by the deadline of March 31 and make their decision to participate in the commencement on a moment’s notice.
A new change to the ceremony this spring is how the students will walk into the arena. Ricklefs said, “We’ve had issues in the past bringing them [students] in both doors.” In the past, students who come through the south entrance have to be in a detailed order to ensure that each student sits in their correct seat. Ricklefs said, “If we bring them into one door, then all the empty seats are in the back and it looks a little nicer. Also, they [students] can be seen from everyone in the crowd, because they’ll walk in the north door and walk out the south door.” If family members are on the south side of the arena, they may be unable to see when their student walks in, but the family will have a good view of them walking out.
Another fairly recent change made to the graduation ceremony is splitting the one ceremony into two. According to Ricklefs this is done due to fire code regulations; if they have more than 420 students graduating, they must hold two ceremonies. She also mentioned that the fire code regulations count everyone included in the entire arena, which consists of the students graduating, the guests they bring, and the staff.
This spring, the first commencement will start at 10 a.m. and the second at 3 p.m. The latter commencement will begin an hour later than last year’s to allow more time to prepare the gym between ceremonies. According to Ricklefs, the two ceremonies were too close in time last year, which made it difficult to flip the gym for the next set of graduates.
The first commencement 10 a.m. will be for the College of Business, College of Education and Technology and College of Fine Arts. The 3 p.m. ceremony will be for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences—another change from last year’s commencement. Last year, the first ceremony was for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the second was for the remaining departments.