Class of 2016 takes next step at commencement ceremony

On May 14, Ichabod graduates walked across the stage in Lee Arena at the commencement ceremony to get their well-deserved diplomas – proof of a successful achievement of higher education.

Divided into four ceremonies starting at 9:30 am up until 8 p.m., graduates from a myriad of departments went through an official transition to alumni. There was one aspect, though, that united all of the students in Lee Arena that day – the feeling of self-content and appreciation.

“I felt completion and pride when I was standing on the stage for all of [my] hard work being paid off,” said Josh Mille, physical therapy assistant major.

Each ceremony began with welcoming of the students into Lee Arena gymnasium with the traditional graduation march song “Pomp and Circumstance.” Washburn faculty lined up on either side to warmly greet the graduates as they proceeded toward their future path in life. The audience consisting of family and friends applauded along the march with the tears of pride.

After graduates and faculty took their positions in their seats, the Washburn Singers performed the national anthem, which was followed by Randy Pembrook, vice president of academic affairs, who recognized the international flags that represent the countries of current WU students and Washburn’s impact locally, nationally and globally.

Pembrook invited WSGA Vice President Nikki Rodriguez to speak to the School of Applied Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences.

“To the graduates:congratulations. To the friends and family: thank you for your enduring support, and for the faculty: thank you for your time and effort you constantly give to create an exceptional educational experience here at Washburn,” Rodriguez said.

For the Business and Nursing graduation ceremony, however,  the same speech was given by outgoing WSGA President Blake Porter.

“When we came here starting at freshman, we didn’t even know the difference between Stoffer Science Hall and Stauffer Commons. Now we are prepared to leave Washburn and spend the entire life explaining to people what exactly an Ichabod is,” Porter said.

Washburn President Jerry Farley then took the podium and addressed important issues that graduates should consider as they leave Washburn.

“You’ve earned a right to be very proud of what you have earned,” Farley said. 

In Farley’s introductory speech he reminded the graduates of their responsibility to preserve the heritage of Washburn and the nation, as well as to enlighten the future generations.

Further in the speech, Farley discussed the importance of respecting a variety of opinions even in times of disagreement.

“Be passionate about your own ideas but also hope that we helped you to think critically and to discuss civilly,” Farley said. 

One of the most inspirational parts of the ceremony was the annunciation of the Sibberson Award winners. Chelsey Mitchell from the School of Applied Studies; Marina Quimby, bachelor of arts in kinesiology with a dual emphasis in exercise physiology and sport management with a minor in business; Shan Yeng Wang graduating with a business administration and finance degree; and Blaire Landon, bachelor of science in nursing were recognized as the highest ranking members of their graduating classes.  

After the recognition, the graduates proceeded to the platform and one-by-one crossed the stage, shaking hands with deans and the president, eventually receiving their diplomas. The family members and friends were eagerly taking pictures and cheered for their loved ones.

“I was actually very nervous at first and then, when I received my diploma from the dean I felt extremely happy. There is nothing better. It was a long hard journey but is was a good one,” said Nate Hollingshead, finance and economics major.

The graduates then partook in the tradition of moving their tassels to the left, which officially concluded their transformation to alumni of the school. The graduates cheered, and again surrounded on either side by faculty, proudly exited the gymnasium.

Commencement for the Washburn School of Law also took place Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Lee Arena.

The ceremony began by a moment of recognition for Jason Keel, Washburn graduate and a classmate to all 2016 Law graduates who died shortly after starting his law career.

“His intelligence, humor, enthusiasm and good will were immediately recognized here by his classmates and the professors,” said Andrew Hamline, president of Student Bar Association.