From messages such as “hire me” to decorative flowers to expressing “thanks” for a scholarship, Stephens College graduates Saturday used their mortarboards to express their thoughts and show off their creative side at Commencement.
Decorating mortarboards has become a Stephens tradition that has risen in popularity over the years. Although every year numerous students show up with blinged-out caps, almost every graduate put her own touch on traditional graduation garb at this year’s undergraduate Commencement, held at Missouri Theatre.
Angel Mendez’s mortarboard said “thank you bill gates” in recognition of the Gates Millennium Scholars program that four years ago awarded her a full-ride scholarship to the school of her choice.
Just before Commencement, she took to social media to further express her gratitude for having the chance to attend one of the best schools “in women’s history. I’m still in disbelief to this day but I know I must go on and give back to the scholarship that gave me everything.”
Several graduates used their major as inspiration for their designs. Michelle Marcum, who earned a bachelor’s in graphic design, decorated her cap in a colorful palette, adding her signature bird to give it her own personal brand. Kelsea Whitten, an education major, used crayons to create a border for her cap. And Holly Hmielewski, a fashion design major, turned her mortarboard into a statement piece complete with bright flowers, jewels and a netted veil.
Members of The Ten—those students chosen to personify each of Stephens’ Ten Ideals—also used their mortarboards to recognize that honor, from specifying which Ideal they represented to just celebrating the group at large.
“The mortarboards were pretty amazing this year,” President Dianne Lynch said. “They were so fitting for the creative, talented, amazing group of graduates we had this year.”
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