Are you a fan of Commencement? Does hearing Pomp and Circumstance stir excitement and fond memories? Do you look for the most creative mortarboards with phrases like, “She did it!”, “I persisted!”, “Hi, Mom!” and the like? Do you like hearing the thoughts and advice shared by graduates and keynote speakers? If you're like me and happened to attend our recent Commencement, then you weren't disappointed.
Over 1,300 students walked across the stage during the ceremonies attended by some 7,000+ family members and friends along with our faculty and staff at the Gaylord at National Harbor. We publicly recognized them for obtaining a diploma as well as showing the grit, tenacity, hard work, and dedication to earn that diploma. These graduates represented but a fraction of the nearly 11,000 students who were conferred American Military University or American Public University degrees throughout the year. Some wore brightly colored stoles indicating special designations, such as being a first-generation student, their military service, and academic and student organization honors. In addition to being congratulated by me and our president Dr. Wally Boston, General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., 29th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and President of our Board of Trustees, personally greeted every AMU student wearing their Class-A uniform.
I attended this year’s Commencement ceremony by earning my B.A. in English. Let me explain what Commencement meant to me.
I flew from Okinawa to participate in a weekend of fun. First, I attended the food drive and met some great people. Whoever came up with this idea deserves more than a pat on the back. It brought the graduates together, in a way that removed the feeling of not knowing anyone amongst so many new faces from all walks of life. Afterwards, I attempted to make the social events, but due to traffic I did not make it although my hotel was only seven miles away. No problem, because nothing was going to dampen my spirits. The coup de grâce was happening June 2nd at 3 p.m., and I thought gracing that stage as my name was called would be the cherry on top. It was not.
With all of our students studying online from around the world, it’s rare that we have the opportunity to bring 1,000 or more of them together with our faculty and staff. APUS annually celebrates our graduating students from American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU) with a ceremony that allows any who graduated over the previous year to don a cap and gown and participate in our Commencement.
Last Thursday and Friday, American Public University System (APUS) hosted its annual commencement recognizing all students who graduated over the previous 12 months. While degrees and diplomas are conferred and distributed quarterly, we have held an annual commencement ceremony in the Washington, DC area for more than a decade.