As the semester comes to an end, many graduating seniors are preparing for their long-anticipated walk across the stage to receive their diploma from President Thomas Haas during the commencement ceremony.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for the students and the faculty and staff to be able to celebrate that milestone with the students,” said LeaAnn Tibbe, assistant director in the Office of Student Life.
Though there are around 1,820 students who are eligible to graduate, only slightly more than 1,000 students will be walking in graduation, said Sue Willemsen, administrative assistant in the Dean of Students office.
The student composition at commencement will differ slightly from years past. While the number of undergraduates who chose to walk is down from last year, the number of students graduating from Master’s programs has increased.
“I am just looking forward to seeing all the students walk again this year,” Willemsen said. “It’s an exciting time, and even after doing it for so many years, I still get excited.”
The speaker for commencement will be Hank Meijer, co-chair and co-chief executive officer for Meijer, Inc. Meijer started at the company as a clerk when he was 11 years old and later worked as a reporter, editor and publisher for newspapers in Detroit. He came back to Meijer in 1979 as the assistant advertising director.
Tibbe said that there is a process through the President’s Office for finding and reviewing candidates and finally choosing a speaker for commencement.
At the ceremony, Cyril Lixenberg—a contemporary artist known for his sculptures and graphic prints who has donated many pieces to GVSU—will receive an honorary degree.
Tibbe added that she believes it is important for graduating seniors to participate in commencement so they can be recognized for all the hard work they’ve done.
“It’s a sense of pride, not only in themselves but also in the university,” she said. “…They have worked very hard to achieve this, and it is a mile marker. It’s one of those things that you can always look back on and remember.”
Willemsen said GVSU students should be proud of their accomplishments and their dedication to complete their degree.
“Graduates are now able to see that the hard work that they’ve put into their studies for the past four or five years has finally paid off,” she said. “They can now go forward and look toward a bright future. We wish them the best.”