Increase in graduates necessitates two commencement ceremonies

by Joe Wyatt
Published May 1, 2019

A steady upsurge in the number of graduates has led Amarillo College, for the first time in its 90-year history, to stage two commencement ceremonies this spring rather than one.

Graduation is Friday, May 10 at the Amarillo Civic Center Coliseum, and AC will conduct two separate ceremonies for the more than 1,000 students eligible to participate in one or the other – based on their Academic Communities.

Both ceremonies will be streamed live and can be viewed right here as they unfold.

AC will honor approximately 450 graduates of its Health Sciences and Industry Communities during the first commencement ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m.

An evening ceremony, beginning at 7 p.m., will celebrate approximately 580 graduates from AC’s Business, Computer Information Systems, Creative Arts, Education, Liberal Arts, Public Service and STEM Communities.

“We are thrilled by the large number of graduates we’ve had the past few semesters,” said Bob Austin, vice president of enrollment management. “But large graduating classes attract large audiences, and seating for friends and family members has become a real issue.

“We don’t want our students’ loved ones being inconvenienced by standing throughout the ceremony or having to sit in overflow seating. Holding two ceremonies is a great solution to a problem that a lot of colleges would like to have – too many graduates for a single commencement ceremony.”

Student speakers representing corresponding Communities will be featured at each ceremony.

For online student Danielle Brown, a radiation therapy major from Phoenix, Ariz., the commencement address she delivers at the 3 p.m. ceremony will be given on her second day in Amarillo. – ever. The single mom will share the struggles she overcame and the support she received on her journey to academic success.

“I am incredibly honored and equally as nervous to be chosen as the commencement speaker for graduation,” Brown said. “I hope to make the faculty and staff proud, as well as inspire at least one person in the audience to follow their dreams.”

Speaking at the evening ceremony will be Stevi Breshears, a mass communications major from Amarillo. Breshears admits she “was not very involved at first,” but she made the transition from bystander to leader at AC, ascending to editorship of student newspaper the Ranger and even joining the Presidential Scholars on a service-learning sojourn to the Domincan Republic.

“The scholarship opportunities I’ve been given here at Amarillo College have definitely changed my life,” the graduate of Tascosa High School said.

AC traditionally holds commencement exercises in both May and December. Austin says that while the College will continue to have just one ceremony each winter, it will conduct two ceremonies in the springtime for the foreseeable future since that is when most students graduate.

“Our efforts to improve retention and completion are starting to pay off big-time,” Austin said. “We’re thrilled that what we set out to accomplish – to get more students to the finish line, and to get them to participate in commencement – is coming to fruition.”



D.BrownStevi Breshears, at left, and Danielle Brown.