A new way to honor grads

by Kathryn LiskStaff Writer

A handful of students are turning in their books a semester early and getting into the real world.

For the first time, Simpson College is offering a commencement ceremony in December designed to acknowledge students who finish up after fall semester rather than waiting until spring.

Steve Griffith, vice president and dean of Academic Affairs, said in the past, many students who finished early didn’t come back for the ceremony in May. He hopes holding a separate commencement will be beneficial.

“When we looked at the folks who were not attending (commencement in May), we saw that a significant number of them had finished their work in the previous December,” Griffith said. “We thought that by providing an option in December, we might be able to provide the students with ceremonial closure for their college experience.”

Senior Elsabeth Roush said she is looking forward to graduating at semester and will take advantage of the commencement ceremony.

“I was planning on coming back for commencement in May and walking with the rest of my class anyway,” Roush said. “But it will be nice to have my friends and family acknowledge that I’m graduating when I’m graduating.”

Roush said she had no problem finishing her degrees in three-and-a-half years.

“It is definitely possible,” Roush said. “Here I am (…) graduating a semester early, even with two majors and a semester abroad.”

Currently, about 70 students are eligible for graduation in December, but Griffith said that not all 70 will participate in commencement.

Senior Kloe Unruh is also finishing her college career in at the end of this semester.

“I went in to register for classes and realized I had only six classes left to take,” Unruh said. “I figured it was probably not worth spending another semester’s tuition.”

Unruh, however, said she won’t be taking part in the December commencement.

“I am still going to spring commencement because I would rather graduate with my friends,” Unruh said.

While the spring commencement includes a speaker and performances from both the choir and the band, December’s commencement will be quick and simple.

“We decided not to have a featured speaker,” Griffith said. “We actually did a survey of potential graduates and asked them to give us input on what they might like in a ceremony. A majority felt that a formal ceremony with caps and gowns in Smith Chapel would be best.”

Griffith also said honorary degrees will not be granted at December’s ceremony.

The college plans to test the success of this new project for two years and evaluate whether or not to keep it in the future.

“(The December commencement) is our attempt to provide students with a quality finish for their academic career at Simpson,” Griffith said.

Both Roush and Unruh said finishing their degrees early is bittersweet.

“I am looking forward to it because I think there is going to be a lot waiting for me after graduation,” Roush said. “But I’m going to miss my friends, the great professors and the whole college experience.”