By Luis Quintanilla
Volunteer State Community College will hold its Fall Commencement ceremony on Dec. 14th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Pickel Field House – Moore Gymnasium at the Gallatin campus. The commencement will include graduates who graduated in the summer as well students who have applied to graduate in the fall. According to the Vol State website, “Participation in Commencement is optional, but strongly encouraged. Participating in the ceremony in no way confirms completion of requirements or official graduation. All program requirements must be completed before the credential can be posted to the student’s transcript or diploma.”
For those planning to participate in Commencement, there are a few things to do before hand according to the Vol State website. First students should have had ordered their caps and gowns before November 8th. They will receive an email when they are ready to pick up at the bookstore, and students will also pick up their guest tickets at this time. These are to be picked up before Dec. 13th. Students may decorate their cap as long as they are tasteful according to Amber Regan , Graduation Associate. According to Regan, the number of tickets per student this year will be 8. The number of guests allowed to attend in the gymnasium is limited, but the ceremony will also be live streamed for those elsewhere according to Regan.
Rehearsal for the ceremony will take place the day before Commencement on Dec. 13th at 10:00 a.m. at the same location.
The ceremony, according to Regan and Tim Amyx, Director of Admissions, will closely follow previous ceremonies. “It’s a typical collegiate commencement ceremony. Family and friends arrive. There’s usually a commencement speaker that address the group as well as a greetings from the Alumni Association that kind of thing. They sing the national anthem and then the students commence, go across the stage, get their names read. We read every name so that way every family can can hear their student’s name called and then at the end we sing the college alma mater and that’s the end of the ceremony,” said Amyx. Once the students and guests are dismissed, “there’s usually whooping and hollering,” remarked Amyx.
According to Regan, rehearsal the day before will be practicing the student part of it. At the rehearsal students will practice walking across the stage, hear announcements, receive a reward for attending and even be able to have their names drawn to win extra guest tickets. According to Amyx, the rehearsal is also meant to make the students more comfortable with the ceremony. “We have a lot of students that this is the first college graduation that they participated, them or their family, so it’s helpful for the students to have a few minutes to just be more comfortable, and to get some announcements and that kind of thing, so that’s why we have rehearsal,” said Amyx. The other thing that is important in attending rehearsal remarked Amyx is that students make sure the person reading their names knows how to say their names correctly as they walk across the stage.
Although attending the commencement is optional, both Amyx and Regan said they highly encourage students to attend. They stated that in the fall ceremony, less than half attend, and in the spring a little more than half attend. “I wish that every single person would commence and would participate, but there are students who don’t for various reasons, but I really think that from the bigger picture that really everybody should participate,” said Amyx.
Amyx stated some students may not look at Commencement as a big deal, and instead just as stop along the way. “They don’t see it as the real accomplishment that it is. So I really wish that more students would take a moment to celebrate themselves and realize that they’ve done something by graduating from college that really not many people do if you take everybody into consideration. It’s an opportunity to celebrate. It’s an opportunity for you to get your family together,” said Amyx. “But I think a lot of people think this is just a stop along the way, it’s not that big a deal, but in reality it’s a big deal. And the college and faculty want to celebrate that accomplishment. Your family and friends want to celebrate that accomplishment, and by not participating in commencement you don’t allow that opportunity that to happen and it really might be your only chance,” continued Amyx.
Amyx remarked that at least someone, whether a parent, faculty or family member, spouse, or friend has invested in a student to ensure he or she reaches graduation, and these people wish to see it come to fruition. “I think that a lot of students don’t think about the fact that Commencement isn’t just for them. Commencement is an opportunity for the folks that have helped them along the way to celebrate. I don’t think that you will ever find a person that graduates from college that didn’t have at least one other person that invested in their life in order to make that happen. This isn’t just about the student who’s graduating, but it’s a chance for all those people who sacrificed and supported to see the results of that work,” said Amyx.
Regan pitched in, “Rehearsals only like an hour and a half long. And then the ceremony itself is only two hours. So you’re talking about taking three and a half hours out of your schedule to come and celebrate.”
Amyx stated that a lot of students tend to be focused and honed in only on their bachelor’s degree and overlook this occasion. “A lot of students say, ‘Well I’m just going to get my bachelor’s degree so I’m going to wait till I get my bachelors degree and participate then.’ What they don’t realize is that there’s a lot of life that can happen between your associate’s and your bachelor’s degree. There’s quite a few students who something ultimately happens and their life gets redirected so they don’t get to the bachelor’s degree when they think they’re going to and so they’ve missed that opportunity to celebrate,” saidAmyx.
Regan said although the ceremony is a celebration and intended to be fun, another reason students may not attend is due to the attention given to them on the day of the ceremony. “They don’t want the attention on them. They don’t want people looking at them. It makes some people uncomfortable. They don’t want it to be about them. So for the very reason they should sometimes, I think that’s why they don’t,” said Regan.
Amyx added on, “For those people that are shy, it’s just a few seconds walking across the stage. You don’t even know you did it practically.”
Another reason stated Regan is that students often overlook their communications and are unaware of the commencement. She implores students to check these such as their Vol State email often. “A reason that they may not attend is because that they didn’t read the email, or they didn’t pay attention to the postcard we sent to them, and sometimes we send messages. It’s important things like this you may miss like an opportunity to participate like commencement,” stated Regan.
Amyx detailed a story of when he implored someone to attend someone to Commencement when she was planning to skip out on it. After the ceremony, Amyx said this person came up to him and thanked him for encouraging her to come. Amyx then added, “What we really needed is for students to come participate and make their own story.”
Regan added on by saying the ceremony is meant to be fun and a point of celebration with family and friends. “It’s all wonderful things packaged up very nice,” she said.