Last Friday, I volunteered to help out with the spring graduation ceremonies for Stenberg College. This event happens twice a year and it takes a lot of organization and teamwork to pull it off! All the staff at Stenberg really pitch in to make sure it turns out great. As this was my first time helping out, it was really nice to have staff available to answer my questions or direct me to where I needed to go. I was assisting the IT and Facility Support team; thankfully, I was left to do more facility stuff and less IT stuff (they really don’t want me touching the computers, microphones, projectors, etc. – trust me!)
The day of the ceremonies is a very long one, especially for staff! Thankfully, things get started around noon so I could rest before the big day (who am I kidding, I was up early finishing an assignment and completing my weekly quiz! Ah, the life of a working student!) After arriving at Stenberg and organizing transport, we loaded up the van with graduation gowns and supplies and headed over to Chandos Pattison Auditorium where the ceremonies take place. I had never been there before but it is a beautiful facility. The next several hours were spent setting up tables, displays, gown pickup, and audio/visual (I let the pros take care of that). Always thinking ahead, Stenberg had a team setting up tents outside to ensure the students (now graduates!) wouldn’t get rained on. The skies looked a bit dicey that afternoon; some clouds rolled in … but we managed to have a breezy but rain-free evening.
At this point, the graduates began to arrive at the facility. To see all their smiling faces and excited voices reminded me of my university graduation 2 years ago. It’s a very exciting and anxiety-inducing time: am I in the right place in line? Where are the gowns? What if they pronounce my name wrong? What if I trip and fall on stage?! For those having to make speeches, I can’t imagine how much more stressful that must be (I hate public speaking). At least your professors are on stage with you – the people who have helped guide you to this very point are front and center to celebrate this achievement with you.
I didn’t get to see a whole lot of the ceremony, unfortunately. As the graduates are crossing the stage, the staff and volunteers are still busy making sure everything runs smoothly. After the ceremony is done, everyone filters out of the auditorium to find a reception. Stenberg went all out and had food and drinks for everyone to enjoy afterwards. When you get the chance, make sure you try the mini lemon meringue pies – yum! This was the best part of the evening – the celebration! These graduates had spent months, and some, years, to get to this point. To have your whole career ahead of you is such an exciting time. The majority had already landed jobs in their field, many from their practicum sites. This is so different from university, where most of my friends and I stood there with our degrees wondering, “well what am I going to do now?”
We packed everything up at the end of the night – when all was said and done, the day was 12 hours on my feet and I was exhausted! But on the drive home, I started to think about my own graduation. We’re about half way through the program now and it’s starting to come together: I’m going to be a Recreation Therapist. Because our program ends in October, my class won’t get to graduate until the spring – about 1 year from now. Many of us will likely already be working and establishing ourselves in the field of THR. And I can’t wait for the day we get to cross the stage too!
P.S. – on your grad day, remember to thank the staff and volunteers – they’ve put in a lot of work and time (not just on grad day!) to make sure things go just right!