Graduates will miss college life, but most agree graduation is ‘next step of life’

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

Fall graduation not as large as spring, but just as important.

By Brittany Westerberg

The Collegian

Fall graduation is reputably smaller than spring graduation. According to University Relations, last year’s December graduation featured a total of 647 people receiving diplomas, though only 395 participated in the ceremonies. In December 2003, 543 graduates received diplomas. This is compared to spring 2006, when 890 graduates participated in the ceremonies and 1,249 students received diplomas, and spring 2007, where 950 of 1,382 graduates walked on stage in robes to get handed that wonderful piece of paper announcing the end of their undergraduate careers.

However smaller the December ceremony may seem to be compared to their fellow students who graduate in the spring, it is no less important. Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. on Dec. 15. This year, 449 students will participate in the ceremony, with a total of 671 students receiving diplomas.

Faculty members and graduating students will be led by Al Branum, director of the Office of Diversity, and Virginia Norris, head of the psychology department, as honorary marshals.

The graduation ceremony is not only for graduating students. Awards will be conferred upon several people. F.O. Butler Foundation awards will be presented to: Alvaro Garcia, for excellence in service by a faculty member; Barbara Koenders, for excellence in service by a non-faculty member; Bonny Specker, for excellence in research; and Lan Xi, for excellence in teaching.

The co-founder of Daktronics, Inc., and former electrical engineering professor and regent, Aelred J. Kurtenbach, will receive an honorary doctorate of public service degree from Tad Perry, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents. In earning this award, he will join a select group, which previously was only comprised of retired state university presidents.

Kurtenbach will also present the graduation address, “Knowledge, Workers and Tomorrow’s Economy.”

For graduates, however, graduation is all about the end of their college years and getting on with their lives.

Randy Barrett will be graduating after four and a half years with a degree in broadcast journalism. “The exciting part of graduating is the step forward into professionalism and the real adult part of adulthood,” he said. “SDSU has felt like an extension of my adolescence and being able to continue to grow, learn and become wiser. Graduation is the culmination into the next step of life.”

“I am looking forward to starting my professional career,” said Susan Werner, who will be graduating with a degree in hotel and food service management and a minor in business studies after three and a half years, “and the thought of not having any more homework or exams is definitely exciting!”

Tara Wilson would have graduated last spring, but she took a legislative session internship for the South Dakota Newspaper Association during that semester. Now, after four and a half years, she is graduating with degrees in journalism and political science as well as a minor in business.

“I am just happy to be done and actually making money rather than spending it,” she said.

That does not mean that these graduates will not miss anything about SDSU. “I’ll miss all of my friends,” Wilson said. “We are all going our separate ways, and it’s a little sad.”

“I will definitely miss the lifestyle of a college student,” Werner said, “and also all the friends and connections I have made here at SDSU.”