Many events mark each semester on the short timeline that is the life of the typical college student at Liberty University. One such event is the day when a student arrives as a freshman with the uncertainty of meeting new people, seeing new places and being part of new experiences.
Long hours spent sitting in class or late nights in the computer lab, finishing that much-procrastinated essay or project that should have been done days earlier, mark the years of college for many students. Memories abound.
After all these experiences, students finally come to what some may call a “defining moment,” where the student will be honored and presented with a diploma for his or her hard work, proclaiming the message, “You’re done. You’ve finally made it.”
Commencement for graduating students is quite an experience, and, according to Associate Registrar for Operations Lori Baker, it involves a planning process that began back in October, a time when most are not thinking about graduation.
Baker describes the graduation experience as a mix of fun and business, where students are recognized for their accomplishments in a way that upholds tradition, but also allows them the ability to express themselves.
“It’s important to have formality and academic tradition, but it’s also important to make it a memorable and enjoyable experience,” Baker said.
Larry Shackleton, who works with Administrative Information Management, offers help to the many graduating students that pass through his office and is always willing to offer his advice and experience to students who are preparing to leave Liberty.
According to Shackleton, students may not realize it now, but “college days” are the best days. He says it is important to keep in contact and maintain relationships with the people that are met at Liberty.
“When you leave, don’t forget where you came from; don’t forget your friends,” Shackleton said. “You have to work hard to keep those friendships, and make sure you do.”
Baker explained how the transition of leaving the shelter of Liberty is a big deal, and after experiencing the graduation planning process for the past six years, she enjoys being a part of the team that plans commencement.
As the end draws near for graduating students, many have taken the time to reminisce on experiences they have had and how Liberty has prepared them for what the future holds.
“It’s very bittersweet to close this chapter of my life,” senior Aubrey Lattimer said. “I’m definitely excited for the future and what’s to come.”
Serving as a resident assistant, Lattimer stated that the environment and leadership experiences have prepared her for other things that she wants to do in life, and they have helped her be more independent.
Along with gaining valuable experience and learning life lessons, students have worked hard to meet their educational requirements as well, and look forward to picking up their diplomas.
“It has been a long, hard road, and I am ready to finish and walk across that stage,” senior David Feliciano said.
Along with being a time to celebrate the hard work of students, commencement weekend provides a time for students to spend last moments with friends and
According to Liberty University’s Registrar website, a Residential Reception will be held on the concourse at Williams Stadium from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday, May 10. All faculty that are a part of the residential community are invited to attend, which allows them to have the chance to mingle with the graduates and meet their families.
According to Shackleton, this event provides an opportunity for students and their families to say goodbye to friends and teachers before leaving Liberty; this is a wonderful opportunity many may not get once all of the hustle and bustle begins on Saturday.
“I always enjoy meeting and talking with graduates and their families,” Shackleton said. “They all have a story to tell and enjoy sharing it.”
As graduates begin the job search, Shackleton encourages them to put their trust in God and honor him. Shackleton added that if that first job, or the one you really want, does not come immediately, be optimistic and patient because that is all part of God’s plan.
“Be passionate about what you’re doing, be passionate about life, be passionate about the work you do, and be passionate about wanting to honor God,” Shackleton said. “You don’t honor God with mediocre work. If you are passionate about these things, the world is open to you.”