A President's Reflections

What a Weekend: Commencement Highlights and A Hearty Thank You

Posted on May 23, 2018

Just over a week ago, more than 19,000 students graduated from SNHU and nearly 6,000 walked at four ceremonies over two days in Manchester, New Hampshire. Collectively, our graduates traveled more than 3.8 million miles to attend Commencement and receive their hard-earned diplomas.

It was emotional for our students and their families and it was often emotional for us. As I reflect on the weekend, I wanted to share some highlights for me:

  • When we managed to FaceTime in a service member who was supposed to be walking with his wife but couldn’t attend Commencement due to training commitments. Thanks to technology, Tyler White joined the ceremony virtually – via video chat – and “walked” across the stage with his wife, Alexandra, 5,000 miles apart. He received a standing ovation and their story was featured on Inside Edition, Fox and Friends, and others. Check out the clip:
  • The woman I found silently crying in the tunnel, who told me her story and how moved she was that she was finally here after a career, raising a son as a single mother, and coming back to school later in her life. Her comment to me: “I didn’t need to do this for my work. I needed to do it for me.”
  • The graduate who leaned into me as I shook his hand and whispered, “SNHU saved my life.”
  • Seeing the number of graduates wearing military cords and the diversity of the students we serve.
  • Meeting little kids whose fathers or mothers were graduating. Given that it was Mother’s Day, I asked the graduates who were mothers to stand up and was struck by their number.
  • The large number of SNHU
    employees, over 500, who finished a degree with us, taking advantage of one of the best benefits we offer.

My list could go on. If anyone questions the impact we have on people’s lives, they need only attend an SNHU Commencement to be convinced.

Equally impressive was the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the over 700 staff members working this weekend, as cheerful and supportive of graduate number 6,000 as they were for the first to enter the Arena. It takes more than a village to graduate 6,000 people over two days and four ceremonies. It takes a veritable army and this was a joyous army of people taking time on their weekend and the Mother’s Day holiday to live our mission.

There are many who took leadership roles in making the event a success; the Commencement and Communications team, the Registrar’s Office, Operations, Student Success, and the Alumni Office. If I start listing I will inevitably leave someone out, so I will instead offer my hearty thanks to everyone. I could not be more proud to be your colleague.

2 thoughts on “What a Weekend: Commencement Highlights and A Hearty Thank You

  1. Rebecca Richards says:

    I wanted to say what an impact I truly felt while working commencement this year, as an academic advisor of almost 4 years, this year was extremely special.

    I had one of my students who graduate that has been with me since I started here. She finished her degree with a 4.0.

    Not only that, but she gave myself and her former NSA a silver bracelet engraved with the word Ohana, because she felt like we have become part of her family and she was so grateful for us and all we had done for her to make her experience here at SNHU wonderful.

    I was so moved it brought me to tears, after the commencement she took myself and her NSA out to dinner with her family to celebrate. It was truly moving and it is an experience i will cherish forever!

    I never realized the size of the impact we have on our students until we are able to meet them face to face and they tell you how truly grateful they are for your support. It is humbling and moving and emotional. It is one of the best experiences I have ever had in my professional life.

    This is why I love being an advisor here at SNHU.

  2. Sarah Mann says:

    I have to say that this year was extra special working on the social media team. I worked with graduate advisor Matt Haefner and every moment was amazing. My favorite part particularly was toward the end of our shift, we found a whole new section of excited students who were ready for the ceremony. Samantha Bacon and others from the OAC were in there helping out as these were students with some amazing passion and heart. It was very heart-warming for myself to see the happiness on their faces when we offered to take their pictures with one of our signs. One student in particular had shared her story with me and I felt so moved that I asked to give her a hug and we both connected about her excitement and achievement. I have worked this position two years in a row now and to see the excitement on students faces is extremely rewarding.

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