Graduation season may seem a long way away, but plans are already well underway at Brandman University. With nine ceremonies beginning in early May and ending in June and spread across eight locations in California and Washington, it takes an army of volunteers to make each event special for the graduates and their families.
Many of those volunteers come back year after year. Their advice for others considering whether to volunteer is the same: Do it. You’ll love it. Here’s what else they had to say about being part of commencement.
Academic advisor, Palm Desert
Commencement where she volunteers: Southern Commencement, held at Chapman University, Orange, California.
Number of times she has volunteered: Three.
Roles: Help students off the stage, guiding them down the stairs; placed water bottles and programs on chairs for graduates; ADA tent monitor. In the past, I have also distributed programs to guests coming through the gates; packing up the stage, packing up the banners.
Memorable moment: One of my childhood friends walked the first year I attended. I was so proud to see her coming down the stairs. She told me that she felt extra special to have a friend greeting her at the end.
What makes Brandman commencements special: As advisors, we get to see students from the beginning to the end of their educational experience with Brandman. We share their highs and lows as they balance life, work and education. Brandman values the relationship students build with their advisor, and students frequently tell me that I motivate them to keep going. It’s a spectacular feeling to be with them until the end. It reminds me I’m living my purpose to help others through education every time I see “non-traditional” students walking across the stage, inspiring their children and family members to continue. It’s never too late for education.
Why she volunteers: There are several veterans in my family; I was an Army wife a long time ago. I love thanking veterans for their service and sacrifice. Veterans face many unique challenges and their dedication inspires me. I love seeing the number of students getting their degrees, picturing the ripple effect that each one will have within their family and by extension their community. The world can be changed with education.
One Stop Services specialist II. Helps student through admission and as they apply for financial aid at the Fairfield campus.
Commencement where he volunteers: Northern Commencement, held at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.
Number of years he’s volunteered: 14.
Roles: Helping to assemble and pack banners. Loading equipment and supplies. Distributing commencement programs and crowd control at the front entrance.
Memorable moment: There have been so many, however, a few do stand out as particularly memorable. Seeing a co-worker who is a friend graduate and walk in the ceremony. Listening to the commencement speaker who happened to be from our campus give a speech a few years ago and knowing that we had all contributed to his experience at Brandman. Also, seeing those students who have overcome a serious physical or personal challenge persevere and receive their degree. All of these moments have been uplifting and create lasting memories.
What makes Brandman commencements special: The feeling that no matter what our role is there, we have all contributed to this event to make it a memorable experience for our students. We all matter.
And one more thing: I just hope to be able to do so for many more years.
One Stop specialist, Travis Air Force Base
Commencement: Northern California, Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Number of times volunteer: This will be her sixth year
Roles: Check in stage party, assist with dressing, making sure hoods are folded correctly, stage line up
Memorable moment: I have many, but the first one that comes to mind is the one where our student was the commencement speaker — a veteran who had an amazing story and powered through getting his bachelor’s degree (and then walked the following year for his master’s). I believe he was one of Dr. O’Connor’s first ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) students and was so thankful for the additional assistance that Brandman offered. Just the pride in knowing that I had a small part in supporting him through his journey and then see him accomplish his goal. It is a humbling and fulfilling experience.
What makes it special: I love the excitement and just the celebratory nature of the commencement. It truly is inspiring seeing these people from all walks of life completing their degrees, and being an inspiration to their immediate and extended family and friends.
And one more thing: I cannot stress enough how exciting it is to see people you’ve had contact with and supported over the last few years accomplish their goals. There is no negative on commencement day, it’s all pure joy and fun!
Here are the dates for Brandman University’s commencements:
- May 3: Whidbey Island ceremony in Oaks Harbor, Washington
- May 4: Lacey ceremony in Centralia, Washington
- May 5: Bangor ceremony in Keyport, Washington
- May 11: Lemoore ceremony in Lemoore, California
- May 12: JBLM ceremony in Lakewood, Washington
- May 21: Southern California regional ceremonies, Chapman University, Orange, California
- June 3: Northern California regional ceremony, Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, California
- June 9: South San Joaquin Valley ceremony, Visalia Convention Center, Visalia, California.