Students and staff prepare for the December Graduation ceremony
On Dec. 9, twelve of the 20 seniors eligible to graduate in December will be part of William Jewell College’s commencement ceremony. Erin Christiansen, senior Communication, Spanish and ACT-In major, and Salena Merryman, senior psychology major, are two of these 12 students.
Merryman is a candidate to graduate one semester early because she came to Jewell already having received 32 college credit hours and took summer courses in order to get ahead. She could have graduated a year early but decided against it.
“Trying to do a full year would have been an overload, so I decided to do one more semester,” Merryman said.
Merryman is glad that she took online classes over the summer because it helped her to get ahead without the cost and stress of the normal school year. She suggests this for other students wanting to get ahead.
“Trying to take classes—if you had to take one or two classes during the fall or spring, it’s about $1000 a credit hour, and doing it over summer is cheaper.”
The time commitment was also less of an issue than it is during the school year.
“Online, I thought it was a lot easier. I was able to do it at my own pace, I was able to do things ahead of the time and I didn’t have to wait for a test or an assignment or something. It was all right there,” Merryman said.
Merryman did not always plan to graduate a semester early, but her change in major from biology to psychology gave her the opportunity.
“It kind of came down to financials. It would be more beneficial for me to graduate early,” she said.
She plans eventually go on to get her master’s in psychology or business, but she wants to take time off first. Though she was unsure at first, she is happy with her decision to graduate early.
“I love Jewell, but I am ready to be home,” Merryman said.
Christiansen is a candidate to graduate a semester early as well. Though she did not take summer courses to complete her required credits, she came to Jewell with college credit hours from high school. She did not know from the beginning of her college education that graduating in December would be for her.
“I always knew that graduating in December would be an option for me. However, I waited until mid-way through my sophomore year before making the final decision. I took time to weigh the pros and cons of graduating early,” Christiansen said.
Although she was not always sure that this is what she wanted, Christiansen is happy with her choice.
“Although I will miss being on the Hill and taking afternoon naps, I am excited to enter the workforce before the spring graduation competition for jobs begins,” she said.
Christiansen plans to work in the marketing department for Engaged Companies in Parkville, MO following graduation for a few years. She then would like to get her MBA. She attributes her future plans to Jewell for preparing her for these endeavors.
“William Jewell has provided me with a wonderful education. The professors truly cared about my success and ensured that I would have opportunities available after graduation,” she said.
Susan Arbo, director of ceremonies and signature events, is in charge of notifying the candidates for December graduation that they are eligible, and she organizes the musicians and speakers involved in the ceremony. She explained that there are differences between the December and May ceremonies.
“The students don’t wear regalia, and they don’t receive diplomas. We do the December one so that they have a celebration to celebrate this milestone that they have finished, so it doesn’t feel anticlimactic…but it is not a graduation ceremony like in May. This event is not intended to replace Commencement exercises,” Arbo said.
The candidates for December graduation are invited to the May ceremony as well so that they can be part of the larger event.
Though there is usually a 75-80 percent rate of participation from eligible seniors, this year it is 60 percent. Additionally, the number of December graduation candidates is lower than it has been in the past.
“It’s pretty common that we have December grads. It seems like several years ago, we averaged about 50 that graduated in December, and then it dropped down to about 30 for a few years, and this year, we’re down to 20 who are eligible. I have a feeling that, back in the years that we were closer to 50, it was before we were doing the four year guarantee, so I think a lot of people were taking four and a half to get through,” Arbo said.
Arbo commented on what the ceremony entails for December graduation candidates.
“It’s brief, and it’s very nice; we have some special music. Our special speakers will be D.J. Balazs, senior, and Dr. Debbie Chasteen,” she said.
This year’s December graduation ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9 in Gano Chapel.