Saturday, I attended my first Stephens College graduation.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I covered the event for the Tribune in the past, but mostly, I would stay through the keynote speaker, then get the heck outta there before the name reading began. As the higher education reporter in College Town USA, May was not a fun month. I’d typically swing by three or four MU commencement ceremonies, as well as Stephens and the three other main colleges in Columbia and Fulton. That’s a lot of Pomp & Circumstance, my friend.
But the ever-so-annoying-when-you-hear-it-eight-times-in-one-month march wasn’t the only commonality. Most of the keynote speakers…while very respected…well, let’s just say it’s very difficult for anyone to come up with an original and entertaining graduation speech.
Instead of keynote, Stephens put together a video compilation of faculty members and students reflecting on their time together in college. And when I say Stephens, I really mean our videography Corey Ransberg, who did a fabulous job making the video sad, witty and fun. Although I assisted in the scheduling, I really only claim credit for one part of it—the two fashion students dancing, one wearing the giant star costume.
I met Heather Johnston and Ellie Keebler in the elevator at Lela Raney Wood while I was holding the giant gold star mascot. Heather had an awesome 1980s era bow on her head and a bright yellow jacket. Both had perfect make-up and awesome shoes.
I recognized them from the senior photo book I was putting together—but, unfortunately, they had no idea who I was, making for an awkward conversation.
Me: “Hi. Will you wear this star costume and dance for our video?”
Them: *blank stares*
Me: “Oh! Hi. I’m Janese from marketing.”
Anyway, they were great sports, as you know if you saw the video. If you didn’t see the video, well, here’s a little glimpse of what you missed. That’s Ellie in the Star:
But an awesome video in lieu of a keynote speaker isn’t the only thing that makes Stephens commencement standout. It doubles as a footwear and cap fashion show.
Our students come wearing the craziest, highest, most bedazzled shoes. And they spend hours making sure their caps are equally glam. Some random samples:
The name reading, by the way, was great—especially seeing the several seniors I’ve gotten acquainted with over the past five months. Heather Johnston even introduced me to her family as the woman who asked them to wear the star costume in the video and not as the creepy lady in the elevator.
And President Dianne Lynch’s comments had so much more meaning to me now than when I was listening in as a reporter. I was able to truly appreciate and understand what she was saying. And, man, I felt so grateful to be a part of this extraordinary community.