May 2, 2011

Commencement 2011

Festive traditions celebrate transition of students to alumni

Emory alumni crossing the Houston Mill bridge by candlelight.
Each year, the newest alumni cross the Houston Mill bridge by candlelight, symbolizing their journey from students to alumni.

By Tania Dowdy

For Emory College senior Shannon Fleming, the journey to graduation has been a slow one, interrupted by semesters off to overcome medical issues and balancing college with motherhood.

"It's been something I've been waiting for, for a long time," she says. "The closer I get, I think wow, I'm going to be an Emory alum."

As the Class of 2011 transitions to the next phase of their lives at the 166th Commencement Exercises, Emory Commencement Weekend May 5-9 kicks off the celebration.

The five-day festivities celebrate Emory's "oldest and newest graduates," says Gloria Grevas, Emory Alumni Association director of alumni and student programs.

The events include traditions like the Candlelight Crossover and the Corpus Cordis Aureum induction ceremony for alumni celebrating their 50-year reunions.

Special this year, says Grevas, is that Emory's 175th anniversary celebration will be incorporated into the 50-year reunion. And the Jake Ward Golden Heart Award recipient, 99-year-old Emory Williams '32C, plans to attend the event to accept the honor. 

At the Candlelight Crossover, Emory alumni will welcome the graduates, illuminated by the candles they carry, as they cross the Houston Mill Bridge to the Miller-Ward Alumni House, symbolizing their transition from students to alumni.

As the event coordinator, Grevas shares students' exhilaration. "It is really thrilling to see students leaving the Emory campus and going out into the world as alumni, and exploring what their next steps are," she says.

Fleming's next steps include taking a year off to prepare for law school.  But for now, she's taking this moment to soak in her accomplishment.

The EAA's blog, EAAvesdropping, and Facebook fan page will be updated throughout the weekend.

See the full schedule of Commencement Weekend activities.

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