500,000th Degree

University President Michael K. Young addresses students at a graduation ceremony in 2018. 

As thousands of Aggies decorate their graduation caps, practice walking in uncomfortable shoes and prepare to turn their Aggie Rings to face the world, Texas A&M prepares to honor its 500,000th graduate at the upcoming Spring commencement ceremonies.

May 9 through 11, Reed Arena will host eight ceremonies for the 12 colleges at A&M’s main campus in College Station. In addition to earning their degrees, 130 Corps of Cadets members will be commissioning into the armed forces on Friday at 2 p.m. All College Station ceremonies will be livestreamed on KAMU, and overflow seating will be available in the AgriLife Center.

Graduating students are asked to report to the North Entrance of Reed Arena 45 minutes before their ceremony. After singing the National Anthem and a student keynote speech, degrees will be presented to all of those without holds, said Chad Wootton, associate vice president for external affairs for the Office of The Provost.

“In the days prior to commencement ceremonies, final grades are posted, and Registrar confirms if there are any holds (financial, academic, conduct) related that would require a student to not receive their diploma,” Wootton said in an email. “Registrar pulls the diploma for any such student. A special coding system allows students to receive a presentation tube as they cross the stage and instructions included on how to remove any holds they may have.”

While a few of the professional schools have outside speakers, A&M has student keynote speakers at all their undergraduate ceremonies, Wootton said. Students apply to be a speaker by submitting a short bio and sample speech, then final speakers are selected by the Student Body President, Student Government Association and a panel of faculty and administrative staff.

“The uniqueness of this process is in its volunteerism and then rigor to select finalists,” Wootton said. “Additionally, [it is] unique in that we do not pay speakers for commencement, as we have found our students to be excellent representatives.”

The university will host 15 ceremonies throughout the month of May at its flagship campus and branch campuses to honor a record-breaking 10,700 total graduates. In addition to surpassing 500,000 graduates, The Association of Former Students is surpassing 500,000 former students, which includes students who did not graduate.

“We have elected to acknowledge the accomplishment at all 15 ceremonies,” Wootton said. “As this milestone is a cumulative success of all who have worked towards and achieved a degree from Texas A&M, we will celebrate all graduates rather than singling out one individual student.”

University President Michael K. Young announced the milestone in an email sent out Thursday to A&M students and faculty.

“These milestones are reflective of our commitment to bring higher education to all who seek it,” Young said. “And as we moved into the ranks of the world’s top research institutions, we have held close the values and traditions that have served us well since opening our doors to students in 1876.”

More information on commencement ceremonies can be found at graduation.tamu.edu.

Life & Arts Editor

Hannah Falcon, Class of 2021, studies telecommunication and journalism and was a Life & Arts reporter and editor.

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