Spring commencement celebrates graduates

Fine arts students, Amber Coultis, Ryan Johnson, Shawn Rooks, Christina Lynn Garcia, Megan Barnes and Cassandra Leigh await commencement with art faculty, Marguerite Perret,  Azyz Sharafy, Kelly Watt and Monette Mark.

The hallways of Petro Allied Health Center were packed with graduates as hundreds of students awaited graduation ceremonies, Saturday, May 13.

Some were anxiously huddled together while some were nonchalantly leaning against the walls. Black graduation gowns with cords and tassles of various colors filled the hallways.

Some had chosen to spruce up their attire by decorating their graduation caps to stand out from the crowd. International students, including those from Botswana, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, China and Japan wore graduation scarves that represented their countries. In Lee Arena, the flags of countries across the top of the stage represented former graduates while the flags on the sides of the stage represented current students.

“I am feeling overjoyed, but cannot get over my anxiety,” said Keletso Smarts, an international student from Botswana, who earned her master’s of education degree.

She plans to continue working for the International House at Washburn after graduation.

Individual ceremonies took place for the School of Applied Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business and the School of Nursing, and the School of Law.

The first three ceremonies began with music played by longtime organist Norma Pettijohn followed pomp and circumstance by Washburn Faculty Brass Quintet’s performance. After this, the graduates and the audience members stood up, hand on heart, and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before continuing with the ceremony.

President Jerry Farley gave remarks to the graduates, encouraging them to positively impact the world with the knowledge and the skills their education imbued in them.

Focus on the important things,” Farley said. “Cut through the clutter.”

He also spoke of the value of the people students surround themselves with, parents, friends and relatives, and urged the students to thank them.

“Now that you have graduated, you will have more responsibilities and you will need those people even more in your future endeavors,” Farley said. 

Before the diplomas were conferred, the Sibberson Award, an award for academic and all-around excellence, was given to one deserving graduate from each department.

Lydia Gibson, health science graduate, received the School of Applied Studies Sibberson Award. 

Samantha Carlson, kinesiology graduate, won the College of Arts and Sciences Sibberson Award. 

Ryan Kelly, international business and marketing graduate, with minors in communications and leadership studies, won the School of Business Sibberson Award.

Virginia Umscheid, nursing graduate, won the School of Nursing Sibberson Award. 

Members of the Washburn Singers sang “Ichabods in All We Do” before graduates lined up to cross the stage as their names were read.

After all the graduates were presented, the new alumni were welcomed by Mike Mustain, president of the Washburn Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the Washburn Singers lead the crowd in the singing of Washburn’s alma mater.

Graduates were asked to stand up again for the final time to take part in the tradition of moving the tassel to the left, signifying the end of their college careers and with that final gesture, commencement came to an end.

“If I had to define my Washburn experience in one word, it would be ‘fulfilling,'” said Katie Snider, health science graduate.