Graduation, a time of celebration. It’s also a time to recognize the sacrifices and support of family and friends who carried the graduate through the tougher times, especially the tougher times in the past year. We united to celebrate the accomplishments of not only the Class of 2021, but also the Class of 2020.
I’ve overseen the WVU Marketing Communications online programs for over 15 years, since 2005. That means that I have had the distinct honor and privilege of recognizing every student that has ever completed the program as they walk across the stage, aside from the one year my sister’s wedding coincided with graduation weekend. This year’s ceremony was different. We gathered at the Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium and we were fortunately greeted with perfect weather. While the scenario was different, the purpose was not.
Many of our online graduate students make it a point to come to campus — many for the first time — from across the country to walk across that stage and be recognized for their achievement. Many were still unable to enjoy this moment in person, but the camaraderie was still there among our graduates.
As they wait for the ceremony to begin, graduates chat about their experiences in the program, often about courses and instructors they found most valuable. But they also discuss their career pursuits and their families. They’ve all shared an academic experience while continuing to live distinctly different lives in different states and in varying stages of their careers.
As the names of each graduate is called (coincidentally by `06 IMC alumnus and current instructor, Bill Nevin), they crossed the stage to then be hooded one-by-one. There is such pride in their eyes as they hand me their master’s hood. This brief moment in particular is one of my favorite parts of working in higher education. It is my personal and professional honor to hood graduates of the programs I oversee – and their genuine smiles as they are recognized are proof that they know they have accomplished something of value, a truly meaningful moment for them.
Graduation recognizes individual accomplishment and group pride. For those of us who spend our careers supporting students through their academic journeys, it’s also a powerful and moving experience. In fact, the day of May Commencement is one of my favorite days each year. It reminds me of the positive aspects of the role I have in the college and the academic experience of my students. It reinforces my passion for the programs and the exceptional people who make up the WVU Marketing Communications community.
It was an honor to be joined by not only the 2021 graduates, but also the 2020 grads who were able to attend. May they never forget the feeling of singing Country Roads with their fellow grads – all of them forever Mountaineers.
Congratulations to the WVU Data, Digital and IMC Classes of 2020 and 2021! We are so proud of you.