A personal celebration at commencement

By Mike Johnston
Special to the Hurricane
Many alumni can remember the time the graduated, sitting outside in the scorching summer heat. Commencement always was a beautiful ceremony, however, it was never very personal. Every student would stand with their peers, flip their tassel, and sit down. However, with President Donna Shalala, that has all changed.
“Every student will get their diploma from the President. Each student will be announced and personally acknowledged,” guarantees Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely.
President Shalala believes commencement should be a very personal experience, shared with the student’s family, as well as the community. Since every student has worked so hard to achieve their diploma, they deserve a picture with the president of their university.
This past Spring Commencement was a huge success, highly changed from the years past. This year, President Shalala took one large ceremony, and split it into three smaller, more personal ceremonies. Each ceremony took place under a huge, orange, green, and white tent with air conditioning. Every student was able to bring as many guests as he/she wanted.
Each ceremony has one student speaker, as well as one famous keynote speaker. Every graduating student’s name was announced; they walked up and received their diploma from President Shalala, took a picture with her, then proceeded to sit.
Student Government President Emeritus Jose “Pepi” Diaz was able to recollect his recent graduation. “It was so much better than last year, it will be something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Your college graduation day is surreal, so the personal feeling really helps you recollect the memories thereafter,” remarks Diaz.
In spring, the University of Miami will have a senior convocation. Senior Convocation is something that has never occurred before at the university. It will occur the night before graduation, and there will be one renowned speaker. The senior class shall choose this person, and President Shalala will do her best to get that person to come.
“I think the changes were outstanding, Spring Commencement was well received by the student and their families,” remarked Whitely.
Commencement is the last major stepping stone to any student career. This is a time that should be remembered, and be shared by all family and friends. This is why President Shalala has made it an unforgettable experience.