A small but exuberant group celebrated the completion of at least four – and often more – years of hard work at this year’s August Commencement. Ninety-four students walked theÂ stage to receive their undergraduate or graduate degree on Aug. 12.
The ceremony took place at Moody Coliseum with President Dr. Phil Shubert presiding and Dr. Joey Cope, assistant professor of conflict resolution, giving the final “Charge to the Class.” This August 173 students finished their degree plans, but not all of them participated in the Commencement.
Two or three students finished their Master’s degrees online and visited the ACU campus for the first time at the Commencement, said Amelia Emery, degree tracking specialist. They received special recognition at the event.
The August Commencement has long had a greater percentage of students receiving master’s degrees than the May or December commencements, and that percentage has been increasing over the past few years.
The 2010 August Commencement had 62 graduate participants and 37 undergraduate participants – which Registrar Bart Herridge said had been a higher ratio of graduate participants than normal. That ratio increased this August, when 70 graduate and 24 undergraduate students participated in the Commencement.
Morgan Myrick from Odessa got her graduate degree in marriage and family therapy at the ceremony. Â She had already received her undergraduate degree in family studies in 2009 and said this Commencement was very different emotionally than the one she’d participated in two years ago.
Many friends and family attended Myrick’s undergraduate Commencement. Her graduate Commencement had a much smaller attendance, she said, but the bonds with her fellow graduates were much stronger. That closeness made the ceremony painful as well as meaningful.
“We’d worked with the same people for two years,” Myrick said. “It’s hard to let go of that.”
This Commencement was also momentous for Herridge. He has helped coordinate many commencements over the years, but this August’s ceremony was very different than the rest. He was able to watch his wife, Laura Herridge from Abilene, receive her master’s degree in social work.
“The ceremony was about her for me,” Herridge said.
Laura Herridge has been a neighborhood coordinator for Connecting Caring Communities, a local non-profit organization, forÂ almost a year, and the Herridge family lives in a Friendship House north of Hardin-Simmons University, said Herridge. Laura Herridge’s new degree will allow her to supervise ACU interns, Herridge said.
Herridge said sitting in the stands gave him a different perspective on the ceremony he’s helped direct for years. He may tweak a few aspects of the Commencement because of his new point of view.