Lights, camera, graduation

Behind the scenes of commencement

The regalia, the scattered cheers in the crowd and the bittersweet tears are some of the best parts of commencement. However, there is much more that goes on behind the scenes in order to make commencement successful each semester. What seems like a job for an army of men is essentially a one woman task. 

“My office is me and one other person. Our responsibility is to coordinate all the other areas on campus that contribute to commencement. There are multiple departments across campus that contribute to commencement and our area is the area that coordinates all of that for every Tarleton campus,” Executive Director of University Student Affairs Programs and Projects, Donna Strohmeyer said. 

Preparing for commencement takes months of planning and a binder full of pre-scheduled emails for students on all Tarleton campuses. 

“[We start preparations for commencement] the week after the previous one. When August commencement was over, I started on the December commencement the next week,” Strohmeyer said. 

Putting together an event for over 1,300 graduates in the fall and 1,500 graduates in the spring can have its ups and downs. Not only is it challenging to reach out to five campuses full of ecstatic graduates but planning a commencement ceremony in Texas weather is an obstacle all on its own. 

“The most challenging thing we have for commencement right now is weather. For the most part, we have got it down. We haven’t done commencement outside in many years, it has always been in Wisdom Gym. Once COVID hit, we had to move everything outside. The thing I worry about that you just can’t control is the weather, “ Strohmeyer said.

In order for commencement to be successful, it takes a team full of dedicated staff and student volunteers helping with collecting tickets and assisting families in finding seats. It takes detailed planning, early mornings and endless communication in order to put on a memorable ceremony. 

Although commencement has its challenges, it is one of the most rewarding ceremonies each Texan will get to experience once they reach the end of their career here at Tarleton State University. 

Not only is it rewarding for students but it is rewarding for those involved in putting it together as well. 

“I like seeing the celebration of all of the families that come. To be able to celebrate with those students that have worked so hard and all of the sacrifices that their families have made, is my favorite part,” Strohmeyer stated.