NIU graduates-to-be focus on ceremony

By Stephanie Bradley

Commencement has arrived once again for many NIU students, as 1,238 graduate and undergraduate students will graduate this Saturday.

Lea Houdek, NIU assistant director of Registration and Records, said August commencement is different than spring commencement, particularly because of the number of undergraduates. About 1,955 undergraduates finished school in May, compared with 586 in August.

On the other hand, there will be 652 graduate students attending commencement this summer, which is more than last spring, when there were 463. This is because many graduate students have completed their classes but still have to finish their dissertations, Houdek said.

The summer commencement ceremonies will take place in the Chick Evans Fieldhouse at 9 a.m. for all undergraduates, and at the Duke Ellington Ballroom at 1 p.m. for graduate students.

Because of the relatively small number of graduates, there are no separate ceremonies for each college in the summer.

The ceremony itself proceeds in the same manner as other graduations, Houdek said. Students will be lined up by college and department. The “platform party”—the NIU president, provost, deans, assistant deans, and others—then enters, and proceeds to the stage that will be set up for them. Faculty members then follow and sit in the first row of seats on the floor. The students themselves then file in, she said.

Before the students receive their diploma covers, NIU Provost Kendall Baker will give a welcome speech to relatives and friends of the students, Houdek said. Students will then proceed to the stage to receive their diploma covers. Then, the recessional will follow.

Graduates will not receive their actual diplomas Saturday because grades will not have been processed yet, she said. Graduates should receive their diplomas about a month after graduation.

Houdek said students can pick up their caps and gowns in the Illinois Room of the Holmes Student Center on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Speech pathology major Shawnae Thompson said graduation will be a relief to her. She is planning to have many family members and friends attend graduation and is happy that there is no limit on the number of people that can attend.

School, however, is not quite over for Thompson, because she will be attending graduate school at NIU in the fall.

Rob Denkewalter is “excited and sad” about graduating. “I can’t do homework anymore. It’s time to get on with my life, even though I’ve had a great time at school,” he said. He has been hired on as an insurance agent at Northwestern Mutual Life.

Donna Ventrice, a special education major, also is excited about graduating. She is planning to attend graduate school, and Governor’s State University and the University of Chicago are among some of her choices. Ventrice has been hired as a substitute teacher at a southwest co-operative, and said she would like to get her master’s degree in counseling.