If you’ve ever attended commencement, you know this day of celebration and new beginnings appears to run effortlessly — from the processions of students dressed in caps and gowns, the student handshakes with Valencia leaders and the District Board of Trustees, to announcing some 1,500 names correctly as our graduates cross the stage. But, creating a flawless event this large is quite the feat. To host a successful commencement ceremony, behind the scenes there’s a tremendous effort that goes on to make this a memorable day for graduates and their families.
Here are just a few examples of the behinds-the-scenes work that makes commencement possible:
– Valencia’s Conferencing and College Events team spends months planning for this event by collaborating with Valencia’s teams to determine event needs; meeting with CFE Arena personnel and processing the rental contract; hiring an audio/video vendor; and overseeing overall logistics.
– Teams from the Records and Graduation office and the Courier Services department start months in advance to manage details for the graduates, platform party and faculty and staff, and then work the night before to make sure the arena is set up just right.
– Student Development, Student Affairs and Security are onsite earlier in the week to walk through key areas and rehearse the details of processing, awarding degrees and recessing the platform party, faculty, staff and graduates.
– The Arts and Entertainment department identifies talented musicians to entertain families and friends attending commencement.
– The Office for Students with Disabilities works to make sure our grads with special needs have a great experience.
– Student and campus deans manage the organized chaos of graduate and faculty arrivals and line-ups.
– Maintenance Operations is always the first to arrive and the last to leave as the team provides endless support for preparing staging items, arena set-up, day-of needs and the complete tear down of everything commencement.
– The Public Affairs and Marketing team prepares social media posts leading up to commencement and during the events.
– Video Productions and the Office of Information Technology spend hours on production needs and run numerous tests for the live stream of both ceremonies.
– The Valencia Foundation coordinates the search for our Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate, who serves as our commencement speaker.
And then there are always unexpected issues that arise during this great day of celebration, and this year was no exception. In the true essence of our service to the graduates and their families, this story from our 2018 commencement is the perfect example:
The mother of a graduate was having severe medical issues that prompted a response from an EMT on site. As a precautionary measure, the EMT requested an ambulance for further testing. Even with the emergency, the mother was insistent on seeing her son graduate.
Knowing this mother’s determination to make the ceremony and with an on-site medic by her side, she was able to watch the ceremony from a location at the back of the arena floor. As she was being treated, her son was located among almost 1,000 graduates and moved to the front of the line, enabling her to hear his name called and see him walk. After crossing the stage, the graduate was quickly escorted to meet with his mother and family for an emotional reunion before mom headed off for the hospital. All of this took place within 20 minutes of starting the ceremony.
Thank you to all who were involved in making the 2018 commencement ceremonies a success.