Pomp and circumstance

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Rebecca Bekele gets a kiss from her father, Isaak Haileslassie, after she graduates with a degree in accounting from Texas Woman’s University at a commencement ceremony Friday morning.

Graduation ceremonies underway for UNT, TWU

Wearing caps and gowns and smiles on their faces, hundreds of Denton university students will transition from students to alumni today, during the second day of commencement ceremonies for local colleges.

Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas will have multiple ceremonies today, after hundreds graduated Friday.

The ceremonies mark the first for new UNT President Neal Smatresk and the final events for outgoing TWU President and Chancellor Ann Stuart.

“I’m looking forward to shaking those hands and congratulating them all, and being part of their journey,” Stuart said. “It is a step in their journey, and it’s a step in mine because this will be my last commencement to oversee.”

Three ceremonies were held for TWU students Friday, all in Kitty Magee Arena, where the orchestra played next to the podium as graduates wearing their caps, gowns and colorful cords made their way to white-and-maroon seats.

“I love commencement, as most people know,” Stuart said. “It’s such a celebration of family, students, administrators, and everyone’s worked hard to make the day turn out.”

Ceremonies resume today at 9 a.m. for TWU students, for most of the College of Health Sciences graduates. The final Denton ceremony will be at 1 p.m. for the remaining College of Health Sciences graduates and the College of Professional Education.

UNT will have three ceremonies today, after graduating 702 master’s students and 88 doctoral students Friday. UNT also held ceremonies Friday for undergraduates of the College of Education and College of Business, who were among the 3,320 students earning bachelor’s degrees.

UNT ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. today for the College of Arts and Sciences graduates, followed by a 1 p.m. ceremony and 5 p.m. ceremony for the remaining undergraduates.

“I was astounded by the number of students we were graduating with advanced degrees,” Smatresk said after the ceremony Friday. “I think it’s a real testament to how far the school has come.”

However, this could be the last time UNT has so many ceremonies, Smatresk said. The university is considering moving to one large commencement ceremony with later break-out ceremonies for different programs and schools, and concluding ceremonies such as a concert or fireworks that evening.

Regardless of how the ceremony is conducted, Smatresk said graduation is his favorite time of year, even if his face gets a little tired from smiling.

“These students have the biggest ‘oh my goodness it’s over’ looks, and maybe a little anxiety over what comes next, but it’s the single best time of the year,” he said. “It’s the payout for what we do.”

Ceremonies for North Central Texas College have all concluded, graduating more than 700, with more than half participating in ceremonies. Thursday evening, a ceremony for health sciences, law enforcement and cosmetology was held and Friday evening, the remaining students graduated with certificates and associate’s degrees.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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