Graduation is a big step in life, and the University of Idaho Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) recognizes that every year with GradFest.
Seniors gathered Wednesday in the International Ballroom of the Pitman Center for GradFest — an event that celebrates upcoming graduation and provides graduation essentials to those who needed it.
“It’s kind of a one-stop-shop where you can get your rings, your diploma frames, various information about various services such as career services,” said Whitney Schroeder, marketing and communications manager at OAR.
GradFest does more than prepare students for commencement — it’s about celebrating their accomplishments and the time they spent at UI.
“It’s a good opportunity to celebrate our graduating students,” said Time Helmke, director of alumni engagement at OAR. “They might not be thinking about it but graduation is a few months off. It’s the time for them to celebrate these big achievements in their lives.”
Big achievements can be nerve-wracking for graduating seniors looking for a job, but senior Tristan Clements has a different plan. Clements, who studies exercise science and health, said he plans to attend the masters program for movement sciences and said he is not nervous about commencement.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Clements said.
Whether students are graduating and career hunting, or entering master’s programs like Clements, the university offers support through events like GradFest.
“We want to bring together resources that are here for the grads,” Helmke said. “Graduates don’t realize that the career services are here for them for the rest of their life.”
GradFest helped graduating students prepare well in advance.
“Ordering stuff online can be so sterile, whereas people here are genuinely excited about you graduating and I guess you kind of get a little cheerleader party here,” Schroeder said. “Everyone is here to support you in your graduation. That speaks to the whole community aspect of UI.”
Attending GradFest offered students benefits aside from obtaining the proper cap and gown attire — it gave them motivation.
“It ideally spurs you to finish those last few months of senior year,” Schroeder said.
In addition to hosting the event, OAR employees also provided advice to graduating students.
“College is such a big part of your life,” Schroeder said. “It’s this incredible experience and process you go through. Hold onto that thirst for learning in college, and always wanting to be exposed to so many different things.”
No matter where UI graduates end up, the university will always remain a home for students to come back to, Helmke said.
“Stay connected — stay connected with each other, the university — stay connected with faculty and staff members you built relationships with,” Helmke said. “The university is always here.”
Lindsay Trombly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lindsay_trombly