The ABCs of Commencement

As we gear up for Commencement, I am bringing you the ABCs of Commencement, Daily Deac style.

A – Apply sunscreen. Commencement is outdoors, and it is sunny. Don’t get burned.

B – Bells. The carillon chimes for a long time after the Commencement ceremony concludes. It’s a beautiful sound.

C – Crying. It’s bound to happen – Commencement is an emotional day. Bring tissues.

D – Drunkenness. Talk to your Deacs to ensure they understand how mad you would be if they are not allowed to participate in Commencement because they are intoxicated when it is time to line up in the processional. Students who are not in good shape can – and will! – be pulled out of line and not allowed to march. You do not want this, so make sure they are aware of your expectations.

E – Elderly relatives. Consider their comfort and mobility as you decide whether they should attend with you. It can be hot or cold, it’s a lot of walking on unfamiliar ground, then 3 hours of sitting on folding chairs, etc. They can watch a livestream (at home), or can watch in the Benson Center.

F – Friends. Take a lot of pictures of your Deac and their friends. Those cap and gown photos are things they will treasure later.

G – Go. Go to the Departmental Receptions in your student’s major. Go to dinner or parties with their friends’ families. Go to any of the events that will make you – or your Deac – happy.

H – Holding seats. You don’t have to have every single family member present at the earliest moment to get in their seats on Commencement morning. Send two people (and one can sit on each end to mark the boundaries of the seats you need, and put coats etc. in the middle for family members who arrive later).

I – Instantaneous. In this world of shortened attention spans, we are all used to getting what we want in an instant. That does not happen during Commencement weekend. While Wake does an outstanding job with logistics and planning to ensure our guests have a smooth experience, there will be still be traffic, lines to wait in, etc. Prep yourself now for that eventuality and try to tamp down your wish for instant gratification.

J – Jackets. The temperature can vary – might be cool in the morning, warmer when the sun comes out. Having a jacket to add/remove as needed is a good call.

K – Kids. If you have littler kids, it will be tough for them to sit through a 3 hour ceremony. Let them walk around on the back of the Quad, or explore buildings until your Deac’s name is getting ready to be called.

L – Livestream. Commencement will be livestreamed via the web site. A great option for relatives to view it, particularly elderly relatives for whom a trip to campus might be more difficult to manage.

M – Mud. The Quad grass will be wet with dew Commencement morning. And the grass, however lush, will get trodden down with 10,000+ people walking on the same paths. That creates mud. Do not wear your fanciest shoes, unless you are willing for them to get wet, grassy, and/or muddy.

N – No signs on seats. Families cannot scope out their Commencement seats on Sunday and put signs on them. All signs will be removed. Get your seats when you arrive on Monday.

O – Optimal time to arrive on the Quad? Wow, this is a tough question. My very type A P’92 dad wanted to be there right at 6 am when the Quad opened, so he could get his choice of seats. But then he had 3 hours to kill before Commencement started. For others, getting a later start is better. Don’t forget there will be a lot of traffic, and with bag checks this year, you want to allow extra time to arrive.

P – Processional. It begins on the 2nd floor of Reynolda Hall and then emerges down the stairs. It takes a while to move all the speakers and the platform party to the stage. Enjoy the pomp and circumstance.

Q – Questions. Look for staff members with gold nametags if you have questions.

R – Restrooms. They will be available in Reynolda Hall, and also executive port-a-johns in the parking lots on either side of Wait Chapel. Use the the executive port-a-johns to avoid long bathroom lines! You can also get off the Quad and go to Scales Fine Arts Center, or Benson, or other buildings.

S – Security. There will be bag checks at every entrance to the Quad. Consider not bringing a bag if at all possible, as it will speed up your entry to the Quad. Or just have one member of your family bring a bag, and the rest of you can zip through the ‘no bag’ line to find your seats.

T – Transmigration. This is the point in the ceremony where we take a 10-15 minute break so that the various graduate schools can go to their own hoodings or ceremonies. Great time to take a walk around the back half of the Quad.

U – University shuttles. These will run continuously from Bridger Field House to campus. So for family members who aren’t carpooling with you or don’t have a parking pass, they will park at Bridger and shuttle in.

V – Victory. Graduating from college is an enormous achievement. It is a victory over all the bumps in the road or the challenges of college. And it proves your students have mastered our core curriculum and courses in their major. Victories deserve celebration!

W – Wash cloth. Bring one from your hotel to wipe the dew off your chairs. Return it to the hotel of course.

X – Xerox. OK, I am cheating with this one, but it refers to paper with stuff printed on it. Students need to follow the instructions on all papers or cards in their ticket packet or handed to them at Commencement (such as the paper with the info about how to get in line before the ceremony).

Y – You. You are our guests, and you are here to enjoy your Deac’s accomplishments. Take time to enjoy the moment, and be intentional.

Z – Z Smith Reynolds Library. It has bathrooms and a Starbucks. ‘Nuff said.


That’s the ABCs of Commencement.

Categories: the daily deac